BrayRoman

On the day after Wrestlemania, I spent hours sitting in front of my computer sifting through the myriad complains of the NAIborhood, and, if I'm being honest, offering many of my own.

Why did Brock Lesnar so handily defeat Dean Ambrose?

Why did WWE build up the Shane McMahon story only to have Undertaker win?

Why did The Rock put Bray Wyatt over verbally, but not necessarily physically?

Basically, the world wanted to know What in the blue hell is going on?

 

With last night's RAW in the rearview mirror, I can't look at you and say all of those questions have been answered.  In fact, I can't look at you and say that ANY of those questions have been answered.

What I can do is look at you and say. . . Who cares? 

 

The two RAWs coming out of Wrestlemania have been fantastic, WWE Payback looks like it is going to be an amazing Pay Per View, and even some of the most fervent critics of WWE (Hi, Laz!) have been, at least temporarily, silenced.  As Pope of Positivity, I am feeling pretty darn good right now about my wrestling experience.

Let me share some of the moments that made me smile most.

 

Shane McMahon continues to do a stellar job running RAW.

I don't know how long this storyline is going to last, I don't know where exactly it's going to lead and quite frankly, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.  Shane coming out and seemingly being "The People's Authority" has resulted in some fantastic television, and I'll enjoy it as long as WWE goes with it.

 

Kevin Owens might be my perfect wrestler.

I love technical wrestling, I love the ability to mix power and aerial ability and I LOVE Wrestle Silly.  What about that is NOT Kevin Owens?  While Bo Dallas will always hold a special place in my heart, I don't think I can consider him my favorite wrestler right now while KO continues to turn in such epic performances.  Nobody I can think of would take the time to stop, pick up JBL's hat, put it back on the announce table and apologize for knocking it over.

 

PPV Quality Matches on a Monday Night RAW.

Someone on Twitter didn't really know what to make of Zayn vs. Styles, which could easily have been a main event matchup on pay per view.  I think they felt like it was wasted on a RAW.  How could it be?  With the depth of talent we have in WWE right now, EVERY show should feel like a PPV, match-wise, and let the storylines be darned.  I loved AJ vs. Sami, and that's all that matters.

 

Dean Ambrose is back where he belongs.

While the Wrestlemania loss will still sting for a while, I think, when push comes to shove, I am really just angry with myself for having such irrational expectations as to think Ambrose could feasibly beat Brock.  I fell victim to my own fantasy booking.

Now Dean is back where he belongs, FINALLY coming back to address the "feud" that started way back at Night of Champions.  He and Jericho are going to do amazing work (the Highlight Reel-turned-Ambrose Asylum was particularly stellar) and Dean will be stronger for it.

 

Bray-May-Zing!

I spent a good portion of the morning fanning out with fellow Bray Bo-Lievers (See what I did there?) Shannon Scott and Whitney Harris, and I think we can all agree that last night ranked among the best all-time moments for Bray Wyatt since joining WWE.  Everything he did was terrific - The interactions with LON and Reigns midway through the show, his promo before his entrance was thrilling and he might have just redefined what a "hot tag" can be.

Perhaps this has been what's wrong with Bray this entire time - He's meant to have the WWE Universe in his hands.  As a "babyface" (using this term VERY loosely), it's entirely possible that the sky is the limit for Mr. Wyatt.

 

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Wrestlemania 32 might be one of the all-time question marks in wrestling history, but that's exactly what it is right now. . .  HISTORY.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you under somber circumstances.  Going into Wrestlemania week, I had hoped that we happy few members of the NAIborhood would find nothing but frivolity and joy, but it seems, as with all things, we must take some time to be sad.

Today, we lay to rest one of our dearest favorites. . . Someone whom we thought might one day live forever.

Today, we say goodbye to the dearly departed Bray Wyatt.

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Mr. Wyatt came to the attention of WWE fans during my Lost Years, but even as only a very casual observer, I remember being puzzled by the then-named Husky Harris.  “The Army Tank with a Ferrari Engine” remains as one of the all-time dumbest nicknames I have ever heard in my life.  I knew he was the son of a legend, yet I also knew there was much more work to be done in order for this character to become a mainstay.  I was not surprised when young Husky disappeared from view.

My Lost Years became truly lost as the 2010’s rolled on.  Marriage and focusing on my career took precedent over reading RAW results and perusing news sites.  In fact, I believe I was unaware of the existence of this so called “Wyatt Family” until deciding that I would once again re-enter the wrestling watching fray with the debut of the WWE Network, and when I did, the man I knew as Husky Harris was literally and figuratively unrecognizable.  

Slimmer, shaggier and with a wardrobe that I believe was actually pulled from the Waylon Mercy collection, Bray Wyatt was a monster unlike few I had seen before.  Part Skinner, part Raven and yes, even part Undertaker, I drank the Wyatt Family Kool-Aid soon after our first meeting, and yes friends, that was without seeing any of their feud with The Shield.

I firmly believed that Bray Wyatt was a stone’s throw away from greatness.

In hindsight, I can not be blamed for this.  The man was in the midst of a feud with John Cena, multi-time world champion and face of the company!  Surely this was going to be the debut ball for Monsieur Bray, and when that demonic child sang to Mr. Never Give Up, giving Wyatt the win, I knew there had been the dawn of a new era in WWE.  

This was Bray Wyatt’s world. . . It was in his hands. . . We merely lived in it.

While he didn’t win the war with John Cena, I did not lose heart. Merely being in the ring, merely standing toe to toe with “The Face That Runs The Place” was enough.  His next target was Chris Jericho and with all due respect to Y2J, he was clearly a foe much more easily vanquished when facing the might of the Wyatt Family.  It is worth mentioning that he did, in fact, win that feud.  Bray Wyatt was on the periphery of the main event scene, and when Bray set free his Family, I knew this was a symbol; the heralding of Bray Wyatt’s arrival.

Bray’s next target was Dean Ambrose and in him, I believe Wyatt found a kindred spirit.  Both, I believe, were agents of chaos, as evidenced by the wildness of their matches.  One more, Bray Wyatt stood tall and once more, I knew this was the final hoop to jump through before ascending to the throne of the immortals.

Then came, as Michael Cole so often says, the turning point - Bray Wyatt challenged The Undertaker. . .at Wrestlemania.

Those of us still under the thrall of our Face of Fear leader danced in celebration - The Streak may be over, but the legacy of The Undertaker is without compare.  This could be the torch passing we had all expected - The symbolic movement from one WrestleMagic Phenom to another. 

For the next two decades, the world would tremble at the feet of BRAY WYATT!

Then he lost.  Badly.  Sure, we could blame the unfortunate injury Wyatt suffered mere days before Wrestlemania, and yes, Bray Wyatt still shared a ring with The Deadman on the grandest stage of them all, but this was a blow, without question.  If Bray Wyatt was not the next great supernatural wonder. . . Who was he?  We quickly learned that he was the man to take on Ryback, and if the loss to Taker didn’t begin to make you question your faith. . . This did.

Sure, Bray Wyatt defeated Ryback at Payback but what was he doing there in the first place?  This man challenged icons.  Legends.  Men far above, or at the very least on the same level as Bray himself. . . Now he chooses Ryback?  Skepticism reigned. . . Until...

Roman Reigns.  Those of us who questioned our savior once more drank from the cup of good tidings - Roman Reigns was the heir apparent to the title of “Mr. WWE.”  To feud with him, especially in the way said feud started, made us revel in the wonder of the feeling that Bray Wyatt was moments away from being the Piper to Roman’s Hogan, the Orton to Reigns’ Cena. He couldn’t be THE guy, of course, but being THE guy’s most hated rival is certainly a badge of honor.

Then he lost.  Again.  Once more, the excuses poured into our minds, but at the same time, we began to see them as excuses for the first time.  One can only take so many of the same kind of beatings before you begin to realize that the common denominator in all of them is YOU.  Were we wrong to put our faith in Bray Wyatt?  Was he not going to save us after all?

Members of our congregation, who had already began leaving in dribs and drabs, started to depart with more haste and vigor.  I held firm, though, especially when it seemed the feud with The Undertaker (and by proxy, Kane) would resume.  Once more, I allowed my rational brain to. . .well. . . rationalize.  “Of course, Undertaker can’t lose at 2 consecutive Wrestlemanias. . . This is where the torch passing will happen. Sure, it won’t have the same effect as it could have, but it will still be memorable.”

Then he lost.  AGAIN.  When next we saw Bray Wyatt and Family, they were feuding with Team ECW, a group of talents whose primes, with respect, were not in this decade. . . If even this century.

It was then that I had to make a hard choice.  I looked in the mirror and, perhaps for the first time ever, truly realized what Bray Wyatt was.

Bray Wyatt is, at his very best, a B+ heel in the WWE.

He can feud with the greats of his day, though he will rarely, if ever, come out victorious.  He will dominate the mid-card when it suits him, but the idea that he could truly climb to the top of World Wrestling Entertainment was a falsehood.  

The Golden Calf of the Wyatt Family was hollow all along.

I tried to make the best of it.  After all, not only am I the Pope of Positivity but I am also the Maven of the Mid-Card.  If Bray Wyatt’s ceiling was the IC and US title scene, I would be happy with that.

Then it happened.  The final nail in the coffin for the character of Bray Wyatt.

The Wyatt Family, in full costume, went to Wall Street and rank the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

There is no coming back from that.  You can not possess Wrestle Magic whilst in Midtown Manhattan.  Once you ring the bell at the Stock Exchange, there is no mystique to you anymore.  You’re just an unshowered man in hippie clothes who speaks in half-worked riddles.

At 9:30 AM on Monday, March 28, 2016, Bray Wyatt passed away.  He leaves behind multiple members of his family - Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan (please pay them a visit down in NXT sometime in the next few months) and, saddest of all, Luke Harper, who had to watch this travesty unfold while preparing for knee surgery.  I sincerely hope that Harper can be saved - In fact, perhaps the House of Harper can rise from the ashes of The Family of Wyatt. . . But at this point, can we even hope for that?

I can.  

I am the Pope of Positivity and I will try, as delusional as I may seem, to find the silver lining in all things.  I take solace in the notion that by the end of this calendar year, perhaps Luke Harper will get a chance to set his own course in World Wrestling Entertainment.  His talent is on par with the best in the company, and I believe he’ll get a chance to show it.  

As for the man formerly known as Bray Wyatt?  I believe, my friends, only days past the Easter holiday, that Bray Wyatt can be resurrected!  HE CAN BE SAVED!  However, he’ll need some help…

 

Dean Ambrose

deanambrose

Remember, they are kindred spirits, both agents of chaos.  They also have recently both caught the ire of one Brock Lesnar.  This sounds like the beginning of a Two Man Crazy Train to Suplex City, except just like in Batman Begins, the train is planning on blowing itself up, taking the city with it.   

Faces. . . Heels. . . I don’t think it would matter.  The combined insanity of Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose would be a joy to watch.  

 

Shane McMahon

ShaneMcMahon

Shane has repeatedly mentioned the problems in WWE, specifically the ones about the wrong guys getting all of the attention, while the truly talented ones get screwed.  Go back and read this eulogy again - HE’S TALKING (ALONG WITH OTHERS) ABOUT BRAY WYATT!

Plus, who is Shane battling?  The Undertaker!  It’s not like those he and Bray are chums!

Bray Wyatt helping Shane McMahon beat The Undertaker is, in my mind, WAY better than any Bullor / Ballet club storyline.  First of all, Wyatt is already a known commodity, which, and I’m sorry friends, Bullet Club is NOT.  People will recognize the T-shirts, but that’s about it.

Second, Shane has spent all this time talking about the guys currently in the company.  He has NO NEED to look elsewhere for help.  There should be a line out his dressing room door of guys willing to take out Taker in order to give themselves a better shot in Shane’s “New” WWE.

Now we come to my favorite one. . . Which, of course, means it is the most ridiculous.

 

Bo Dallas

raw-bolieve

I’ve been saying for months now that Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas are far more similar than many of us choose to think.  Both were cult leaders in their own right - Bo Dallas, sadly, just never got the chance to amass a following.  They each preached in the power of their philosophies, which involved saving WWE from itself.

Why couldn’t they join forces - The yin and yang saviors?

If this idea doesn’t work for you, don’t worry, I’ve got another one - PUNT!  The gimmicks aren’t working, so trash them and give them new ones.  Let these boys embrace their kayfabe heritage as the sons of Irwin R. Schyster!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Harris Wyatt and Dallas Beau, the Rotunda Brothers!  Each has callbacks to their previous gimmick (in Bray’s case, his past 2 gimmicks) while also sounding extra snooty.  Put the hair in ponytails (or cut it short - let’s get CRAZY), dress them up in suits (with red suspenders in homage to Daddy) and let them have some fun!  Make them Authority lieutenants, put them in the tag division to feud with New Day, the Usos and Enzo and Cass. . .  I don’t care - Just do SOMETHING!

Put their real life sister Mika with them. . . BUT HER NAME IS ABIGAIL!!! ABIGAIL ROTUNDA!  SHE’S THEIR SISTER AND HER NAME IS ABIGAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

. . . . Ok, I might have gone too far with that one.

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Yes friends, Bray Wyatt is no more. . . But if WWE has taught us anything, it’s that one can never say never. . . and nothing is ever truly gone forever.

 

Monday Night RAW ended in an unexpected fashion as Bray Wyatt (and Family) stood tall over BOTH Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.  Now, history would usually dictate that said ending guarantees Bray will not win the Rumble, as whomever stands tall on the go-home show tends not to do well on the following PPV.  I get that.

But here's the thing - Bray Wyatt SHOULD win the Royal Rumble.

Now, I can see NAIborhood members like Laz and even my very good friend Doc Manson shaking their heads at me again.  "Oh, DC, there you go being that Irrational Idealist again.  Bray Wyatt isn't ever going to be a big deal in WWE."  Perhaps that's true, but I say it again, with conviction.

Bray Wyatt SHOULD win the Royal Rumble.

Here are three reasons why.

One - It spreads out the wealth.

I don't need to tell you this, but I'll do it anyway - Injuries are abound in World Wrestling Entertainment.  Two of the three talents voted in the NAI150 as MVP's of 2015, Seth Rollins and John Cena, are on the shelf, most likely until summer.  Orton is out for who knows how long, and numerous other "minor" superstars are also stuck on the DL.  This Wrestlemania season is going to be thin in the main event tier of talents.  We've accepted that.

Meanwhile, the biggest feud in WWE right now is Roman Reigns vs. The Authority, specifically Triple H, despite the latter not having made an appearance in weeks.  We know that Triple H is going to make some sort of impact at this Sunday's Rumble and we know that, somewhere down the line, he and Reigns are going to have themselves a match.

So why limit yourselves?

If Roman and Triple H is already going to have a main event feel, why does it need a title?  Does the championship make it more meaningful?  Sure, maybe a little, but not to any major extent.  Whereas, if you let Roman vs. Triple H shine on its own merits, you can take the power of the World Heavyweight Championship and give it to other talents who might benefit from its rub a little more.

Like Bray Wyatt.  Sure, you could slide other talents (Lesnar, Owens, Ambrose, etc.) in that mix as well, which is why I have two other reasons for Monsieur Face of Fear.

Two - It rewrites history in an instant.

On our year-end #DDTAwards show, Doc Manson and I gave Bray Wyatt the Career Character Misuse award, which technically isn't a thing, even though it should be.  On this week's NAIpod, the boys discuss the yo-yo booking Bray Wyatt has endured these last years.  That's not even beginning to mention the thousands of tweets I've seen lamenting how Bray's career has gone since swapping Husky for Crow Pants.

Winning the Royal Rumble AND the World Title fixes all of that.

If Bray Wyatt stands tall to end the show this Sunday, it is a declarative statement that he has arrived as a main event player.  While many of you are saying to yourselves right now, "But we've seen moments like that before" - Not this big.  Kidnapping the Undertaker at a "B-level" PPV is one thing - Becoming a World Champion by surviving an epic match at a Big 4 Show is another thing entirely.

And then what happens if he beats Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania?

Ok, now I might be shooting the moon here, but if Reigns and Triple H are locking up, the logical person to fight for the World Title against a champion Wyatt is The Beast Incarnate, especially after Monday night.  Bray vs. Brock is going to be a fantasy matchup of a lot of members of the NAIborhood, myself included.  History may dictate that Bray would once again come up short against his main event opponent, it doesn't have to be that way.

In fact, being the first man to pin Brock Lesnar since snapping the Streak, via help from the Family or not, is an even BIGGER moment for Bray than winning The Rumble would be.  In three short months, you've made yourself an elite talent who can headline shows for the next decade... You know, that little thing we've been all over WWE for years for not doing enough of?  Bray pinning Brock sets up his future, which brings us to our last reason./

Three - It shapes the future. . . While hinting at the past. . .

One of the points I thought was most poignant on NAIpod this week was when . . . Of course now I don't remember who said it . . .  SOMEBODY said that Wrestlemania stories are told slowly - They need time to build.  I couldn't agree more.

Which is why Bray winning makes sense.

We loved the Reigns / Wyatt feud, even if we felt it went a little long, and we marked out when Bray Wyatt told Roman that "they would dance again" at some point in the future.

"But DC," you say yet again, "you just told us that Reigns vs. Triple H was the co-main event to Wrestlemania, and now you're saying it's Roman vs. Bray?"

Not quite.  I'm saying that Wyatt vs. Reigns is a fantastic story to tell AT SOME POINT in 2016.  WWE has to, at some point, start thinking long-term when it comes to their potential arcs and storylines, and Bray Wyatt as champion does that.

For example:

Bray vs. Roman

Bray vs. Harper (or the rest of his family)

Bray vs. Authority

Bray vs. Finn Balor (just to irritate Moltov)

Bray vs. Owens (stop drooling, I know it's a good idea)

Bray vs. a returning John Cena or Daniel Bryan. . . Heck, or Randy Orton. . .

Bray vs. a returning, and face, Seth Rollins

Putting the belt on Wyatt sets up your 2016 and beyond to be a new and magical adventure.

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There's going to be negativity no matter who wins the 2016 Royal Rumble - Just get used to it.  This is the social media world, where we all have opinions that are better than yours and most of us are not shy about telling you why your ideas suck.  In fact, I'm sure I'll get a handful of people who will tell me all the reasons why this is a waste of time article, and Bray Wyatt has absolutely no shot to win the Rumble on Sunday.

And they may be right.  I'll give them that.

But Bray Wyatt SHOULD win the Royal Rumble.  WWE would be a whole lot better if he did.

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What do YOU think?  Be Heard.

For today's Thursday column, I thought I'd opine about the lost career of Tekno Team 2000, and what could have been. . .

No, of course not.  The only thing that can be discussed right now is the injury to WWEWHC Seth Rollins, and what it means for the roster, the company, and the future.

I imagine that a whole lot of NAI Fan Friday will be devoted to this topic, so rather than belabor every facet, examine every angle. . . Let me do what I enjoy doing, and do some Fantasy Booking.

There's only one man who should be winning this title, and his name is Bray Wyatt.

In truth, to me, there are only 3 possible winners in all - Wyatt, John Cena and Roman Reigns - and neither of the latter two are smart choices.  John Cena, while a viable emergency option (Sorry, Sheamus, but it ain't you), sends the distinct message that this "youth movement" we've seen signs of for the last couple of weeks was an aberration.  There are a lot of positives to come out of the fall of 2015 for World Wrestling Entertainment and this injury shouldn't signal a step back.

As for Roman Reigns, much like I've said in columns and on DDT Wrestling, it's still too soon.  A lot of fans are JUST getting to the point where they can imagine Reigns as a viable main eventer and World Champion.  Giving him that status, and the pressure that comes with it, at this point is still way too big of a risk.  You want fans salivating for Roman's eventual title win, and that's not happening yet.

Which brings us back to Bray.  The logical choice.

Fact 1 -  Bray Wyatt, in the last three weeks, has abducted both Undertaker and Kane.

Two of the most powerful men, whether it be in terms of stature, #WrestleMagic or sheer WWE careers, have all been kidnapped by the Wyatts.  This puts Bray into a very strong position - mysticism wise and standing wise in the company.  In fact, taking Rollins and Reigns out of the equation, is anyone bigger than Wyatt right now?  I don't think so.

Fact 2 -  Seth Rollins was injured, no matter how it happened, battling Kane overseas.

WWE is usually averse to mentioning house show participants, but their hand has been forced here.  They will need to address how Seth's injury happened and how they plan on proceeding.  People are going to know that Kane was Rollins' opponent.

So how does WWE go from here?  Kane magically escaped to Dublin, but was recaptured?  Seems silly.  Do they try to hide it under the rug and just be vague about specifics?  Won't work, not in today's world.

The best plan is to run with it.  Kane was wrestling as a member of the Wyatt Family, and now Seth is injured.  Bray's #WrestleMagic has taken on new forms, as he is now able to "hurt" others just by thinking it.

I'm imagining Bray opening RAW in his rocking chair, chuckling about Rollins' unfortunate demise. Nothing personal, of course, just a means to an end.

What end?

Fact 3 - The World Heavyweight Title will be decided in some sort of tournament at Survivor Series.

I haven't seen any specifics yet in terms of the format for crowning a new champion, but the odds are ever in Bray Wyatt's favor.  His Family was already at 4 members strong. . . And if Kane, and even better, The Undertaker are the newest of Wyatt's thrall, those odds are now insurmountable.

Just imagine it - An 8 (or dare I dream, 16) man tournament, with at least one other Wyatt Family member not named Bray as official participants.  The other members of the Family, Taker and Kane included, spend the night of November 22nd doing everything they can to guarantee Bray walks out of the building with the title.  Taking out wrestlers in the back, attacking competitors after they've won their opening round contests, knowing they'll be facing Bray in the next matchup.  Not to mention, of course, the #WrestleMagic.

Bray coasts to the finals, while Roman Reigns has to fight, scratch and claw his way through his bracket.  The main event, championship match is yet another battle between Reigns and Wyatt - Sooner than we all hoped, but certainly not the worst thing in the world.

Before the match, we see Roman Reigns confronted by The Authority.  They might not like each other, but they do have a common enemy in this instance, as Bray Wyatt wielding that much power AND the World Title is not, in their minds, "best for business."  So an uneasy alliance is formed, with Triple H and Stephanie decreeing that all other Wyatt's not named Bray are banned from ringside.

The match, as expected, is a war from start to finish.  Perhaps there's even a stipulation added last minute, since Bray and Roman did so well with weapons in the Cell match.

And in the end. . . . Bray wins clean.  Maybe it's the dark, demonic powers surging through his veins, maybe it was just his time, but Bray would need to pin Roman's shoulders on his own to truly arrive in this moment, which is what this moment really would be.

Survivor Series 2015 - Wyatt's Wakening. Or the Birth of Bray.  You pick.

Survivor Series ends with the entire Wyatt Family in the ring, Bray kneeling with his title, his original 'Horsemen' behind him as always, and Taker and Kane kneeling to honor their new master.

So, What happens from there?  Oh, only the following.

Bray cements himself as the next big bad beast, and the winter of 2015 is spent under the control of the Wyatt Family.

Roman Reigns, once more, has had glory within his grasp and it slipped through his fingers, continuing to whet fans appetites for the moment when he finally achieves his first title win.

Perhaps, between the #WrestleMagic and now Championship power, Bray Wyatt begins to struggle to contain all of this energy surging within him.  His power over Undertaker and Kane begins to slip as 2016 begins, and as Wrestlemania 32 nears, the Brothers of Destruction start finding themselves.

Let's not forget Seth Rollins, who no matter what is coming back from this injury as the biggest babyface the company has ever seen.  If that can happen with Bray Wyatt as his first opponent?  Shut Up and Take ALL My Money.

I can keep going.  Brock Lesnar returns to collect the title he never really lost, now held by Bray Wyatt, who just so happens to have Brock's biggest opponent as a lackey.

Plus, we just saw the first alliance between Triple H and Roman Reigns.  Do we doubt it'll be the last?  Hardly.  #HeelSeedsPlanted.

Conclusions

Seth Rollins' injury is a major blow to this company, but it could very well be the opportunity Bray Wyatt and WWE need to solve their commitment problem.

Are you ready to live in a world where the New Face of Fear is your World Heavyweight Champion?   Be Heard.

The last 72 hours have taught me many things, and while this particular lesson was one I’ve long since known about, I certainly have had it reinforced.

I have an addictive personality.

After about 10-12 hours spent in my office Sunday - writing my predictions column (I didn’t do so bad, really), re-recording the initial episode of the NAIborhood podcast (now available on iTunes, YouTube and PodOMatic!), editing, discussing things with ace producer Bill Neville, sending it off, then recording a second episode, I finally re-emerged to the world right around the time of the Money in the Bank pre-show.

I had a choice in front of me.  I could dive right into MITB or I could spend some quality time with the beautiful and incredibly supportive Mrs. Matthews, who hadn’t minded losing me to NAI-land for the entirety of our Sunday.

The decision was super easy, so I wound up only watching about half of the PPV last night.  To be honest, that was probably for the best, since I wound up skipping the parts most of you seemed to be the most discouraged with.

I’m not going to write a full reaction column, since I didn’t see the entire thing, but I will share this Chief’s brief thoughts on the parts of the show I did catch.

Dusty

The American Dream loomed large over Money in the Bank.  That was one of the better produced remembrance vignettes I’ve seen, and I loved that they did a ten bell salute for him at the beginning of the show.

I don’t mean to keep nitpicking on this issue, but once again I was stricken with how Vince McMahon looks.  Yes, he’s getting old and yes, he spent enough time with steroids that his body would inevitably fail on him, but he certainly looks the worse for wear.  I did, however, love how he was grooving to Dusty’s cowbell-heavy theme song.

R-Truth vs. King Boom!

I don’t know what’s worse - Barrett’s hideous entrance outfit or the fact that his gimmick seems to be losing, losing and then losing again.  There’s no denying that Truth has been absolutely hilarious over the last few months, and he certainly needs an interview segment or a WWE Network show, but what’s going on with Barrett?  Did he offend someone backstage?  Did I miss something?

Money in the Bank

Chokeslam to a guy on the ladder? Check.  Zig Zag off the ladder? Check.  Sheamus using the ladder as a weapon?  Check.

One of the few mini-predictions from this match I got wrong was the winner, and I’m delighted to have missed the mark with that one.  Bray and Roman is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch, and Sheamus definitely deserves another chance at the main event.  I’m happy all the way around.

Divas and IC Title match

Skipped them both, gleefully.  I’ve heard from some fans that Nikki and Paige was good up until the ending, which I’m glad to hear, but it’s really the ending part that matters most, no?

As for Ryback and Big Show, nobody has told me I’m missing anything.  In fact, they’re jealous I avoided the train wreck.

Cena vs. Owens

When did John Cena become a Ring of Honor wrestler?  I’m not sure what number we’re on for the “Moves of Doom”, but I saw at least 5-6 things out of John that I’ve never seen from him before.

These two put on yet another wrestling clinic and MOTY candidate, and one of the reasons I know this is because there was barely any negative reactions on my timeline to the fact that Cena pinned Owens.  Maybe Owens’ attack post-match was the reason or maybe it was just because Cena actually wrestled like his life depended on it, and he definitely looked like he had finally met his match.

Thank you, Cena. *clap clap clapclapclap*

Tag Title Match

This match confused me.  First of all, Titus pretty much won those belts all on his own. I don’t remember seeing Darren Young have a single moment of offense.  I like Titus and I love this booking as a beast, but that was weird.

Then you have New Day.  It wasn’t time for them to lose the belts, if you ask me, and Woods basically just getting shellacked is an odd move as well.

I’ll be interested to see where they go from here with both teams.

Ambrose vs. Rollins

We’ve had some absolutely fantastic ladder matches in WWE history, but I’d rank this one pretty highly on the list.  I loved that the ladder wasn’t the focal point of the match - these two used the ladder when it made sense but otherwise just beat the tar out of each other.

Ambrose was great and Rollins more than made up for any backslide he’s suffered over the last few months.  Much like Joker and the Batman, I hope these two are destined to do this forever - they can continue to on-again off-again feud for the next 5-10 years and I’ll enjoy the heck out of it.

Overall

As I said before, I think I’m better off for not watching every minute of Money in the Bank.  I’ve written about this before, but a lot of people would stop complaining and do more #PromotingPositivity if they were a little more selective in their viewing habits.  Do you think Ryback stinks?  Don’t watch him!  Are you tired of WWE not giving Divas a chance?  Take a break from them!  You’ll feel better in the long run, I assure you.

I’m going to call it a toss up between Cena / Owens and Ambrose / Rollins for match of the night.  Both were excellent back and forth contests that told quality stories.  MITB was solid enough and while I still have questions about the tag title picture, I enjoyed what I saw.

The “DC Digest” edition of MITB gets a solid A from me.

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What do YOU think?  Be Heard.

It is a well-known fact that DC Matthews, and really the NAIborhood in general, loves the concept of a stable.  Travel back through the Twitter and article histories and you’ll see countless discussions about who should team with who, what the angle should be, etc.

Over the last few years, the concept of a “stable” has shifted.  Gone are the days of the Horsemen and the nWo.  In today’s WWE, you’ve got two types of stables.

The Authority: A group of individuals focused solely on the protection of their star, with some occasional dips into promoting their own “best for business” agenda.
A trio:  3 guys uniting for a single cause.  Not 4.  5 is right out.  It has to be 3.

While there have been many famous triads in wrestling history (New Day is, hopefully, turning some curious fans onto the success of the Fabulous Freebirds), this recent trend can be traced back to two major groups - The Shield and The Wyatt Family.  These two trios had countless battles, mainly against each other, and seemed to dominate pro wrestling for a brief period.

Yet, looking back on it, this is a tale of two trios.  While The Shield is lauded, praised and seems destined for Hall of Fame greatness, the Wyatts are mainly an example of “what might have been.”  Why is that?  Why did one trio succeed while the other faltered, when both seemed poised to take over the world?  As with any good question, there’s multiple answers here, so let’s take a look back and see what happened.

Time

Both these groups had almost an identical amount of time as a stable, though some might make the argument (and I hope they’re right) that the Wyatts’ aren’t done wreaking familial havoc.

The Shield made their debut in November of 2012 and famously (and, oddly enough, on the exact day of this writing) broke up on June 2nd of 2014.  That’s a little over 18 months.

The Wyatt’s didn’t debut on WWE programming until July of 2013, though they lasted longer as a unit, going until their odd dissolution in December of 2014.  Again, just about a year and a half.

Despite the similarities, in objective hindsight, it appears that the Shield broke up at the exact right moment.  Nobody seemed to question their direction leading up to the split, and while people were excited for what it meant for the futures of Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns, it was still a very emotional split.

Not so for the Wyatts.  All 3 talents seemed to be languishing near the end of their run, and when they did “break up”, if we can even call it that, it seemed appropriate.  We were expecting Bray to become a mega-star, Harper to take over the mid-card and . . . Well, we weren’t sure what to do with Rowan, even if he did become a Rubik’s cube solving genius.

Obviously, time can’t be a deciding factor in this.  Let’s move on.

Titles

There was a while there, right before I got back into the wrestling world, where The Shield had a vice grip on the championship scene that harkens back to the days of the Horsemen, or to use a more recent reference, the Two Man Power Trip.  Ambrose wore the US title for just about an entire year - In fact, he’s the longest reigning United States title holder since the belt became a WWE product. (The longest reigning US champion was Lex Luger, and as someone who watched a lot of that title reign during my WCW PPV quest, let me tell you - it seemed a whole lot longer than 523 days.)

Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns only held the tag titles for 148 days, winning them on the same day Ambrose won the US title (quite the coronation for The Shield, no?).  So for just about 6 months, these guys ran the roost in WWE.

The Wyatts?  Again, not so much.  Erick Rowan and Luke Harper held the NXT Tag Team titles, which is lovely, I suppose, but neither them nor Bray Wyatt held any other titles during their Family run.  Well, I suppose Harper won the IC title right in the very last weeks of the Family, but that’s dodgy at best.

Hmm, we’re getting warmer here.  Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

Booking

It was obvious, wasn’t it?  The Shield was one of the best stables in history because they were booked like one of the best stables in history.   From the very beginning, the brothers had a pseudo-alliance with one CM Punk, one of the top guys in the company.  They took on some of WWE’s best talents and won, took on Evolution and won, then dominated the title scene.  Even their break-up was booked as one of the most dramatic moments in WWE history.  These guys were meant to be main eventers, which explains, crazily enough, why they all are.

The Wyatt’s never had those moments.  Sure, Bray had his main event feuds, but as we all seem to repeatedly lament, he never had the success we would hope he had.  Evidently, he is not someone WWE feels comfortable building around, and while I may vehemently disagree with them on that opinion, I have to grudgingly go along with their decision.  They have plenty of main event guys, so it makes some sense.

But what about Harper and Rowan?

I’m not sharing government secrets here, folks.  The tag team division has SUCKED over the last year +.  Sure, New Day and KiddAro are amazing, and we seem to be seeing a resurgence of the Prime Time Players, but how in the blue hell did Luke and Erick not win the tag team titles on MULTIPLE occasions over the last 18 months?  What was the point of feuding with the Usos for PPVs on end and LOSING each time?  These guys could have been, in some ways, the Road Warriors of the division, in all the ways The Ascension can’t.  They’re bigger, stronger and arguably more talented (especially “Hawk” Harper) than anybody else.  Nobody should have been able to touch these two.

Thankfully, because the break up wasn’t so prevalent, Rowan and Harper have been able to sidle back together without much of a fuss.  I’m all for the tag division continuing to grow, but these two need to be a major piece of the tandem puzzle.  If they don’t win the tag titles on this go-round, then I don’t know what to do any more. They’ll push my #PromotingPositivity to the breaking point if these guys don’t start running roughshod, and pronto.

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What do YOU think?  Why did The Shield succeed while the Wyatts did not?  Be Heard.

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