First and foremost, #SummerSlamTaughtMe that match order matters. After a totally enjoyable experience last night writing the first part of this series, today’s Summer Slam viewing dragggggedddd onnnnnnnnn. I got through the first 45 minutes yesterday and took four pages of notes. I watched an hour tonight (four matches, as opposed to the 2 from yesterday) and barely wrote three pages of comments. Yikes.
While I was very vocal about Orton and Sheamus being a bad choice for match opener, it certainly was a far better option than the two or three matches that followed. AmbReigns and the Wyatts may have worked, but probably only as well as RKO and “The Hawk”. I guess being a veteran dependable hand is another thing that
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that without the video packages setting up each match, most WWE ‘events’ would be only 90 minutes long.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that there is such a thing as too much denim. . . Also, there is such a thing as too many sequins.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that #WorldElite (the stable Josh Petrie and I have been salivating over for months) is closer than ever. Rusev, just like at Wrestlemania, looked like he stepped right off of Josh and my fantasy booking tweets. (@jpetrie18 for a great wrestling fan)
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Dolph Ziggler seems to be asking for concussions, especially with the way he slams his head into the turnbuckles. Orton just showed us that those things can cut you, Dolph, be careful! Or are you trying to make this stand up career a more full time thing?
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that bear hugs are boring. . . Very, very boring. . .
Going off of that a bit, #SummerSlamTaughtMe that while some matches (Orton and Sheamus for one) do not benefit from Twitter (since you need to focus and watch to appreciate them), some matches do. Like this one.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that when bored and without Internet, I doodle while watching wrestling.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Rusev, Kevin Owens and Bray Wyatt would make, quite possibly, the greatest stable the world has ever seen. #SentonStable
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Lana is pretty good at being a manager. It’s a shame she’s “Too Russian” to do much talking anymore, but she’s got the little things down. The quiet cheering, the facial expressions, all of it. I think she’s been taking lessons from Heyman.
Truthfully, the main theme of Ziggler vs. Rusev was. . .
that when it comes to this feud, Lana and Summer > Dolph and Rusev, and quite frankly, that shouldn’t be.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that the Cosmic Kings make a good team. Of course, having seen RAW now, I understand that lesson doesn’t really matter anymore.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Edna from The Incredibles was right. No capes!
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that WWE really didn’t intend for this show to be “bigger than Wrestlemania”. If they had, both Neville AND Stephen Amell would have had better entrances. Dim lighting, a spotlight on an arrow in the ground, maybe a zip line, better costumes. . . Really, anything. Jason Moltov said this already, and I’m sure he wasn’t alone - Amell was just “a guy” walking to the ring. Total waste.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Stephen Amell knows his wrestling rules. I give him all the credit in the world for making sure to grab the tag rope before Neville brought him into the match.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Stardust might be Cody Rhodes’ best work so far. Scoff if you must, but its true. While I missed almost the entire rest of Cody’s career during my “Lost Years”, I have to believe that no other part of the younger Rhodes brother’s wrestling life involved this much ‘performance’. He is being crazy while also being very emotional, and I enjoy it a lot. I don’t know what the endgame is for Stardust. . . In fact, since its WWE we can all probably assume there isn’t much of one. . . But this has been incredible.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that the production truck was missing camera cues left and right. We didn’t see Amell’s nip up til the replay, nor did we see the entirety of his arrow pose. Sad.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that while the truck had problems, the storytelling in this match did not. Stephen Amell SHOULD get his ass kicked. The aforementioned Mr. Moltov isn’t very impressed by a guy who only did a couple of moves, and I get that. But if he had done much more than that, it would have just looked weird. Rhodes and Barrett have probably 15-20 years of wrestling experience - They can’t get tossed around by a glorified stuntman.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Neville knows when to kick it into high gear, especially when a match is dwindling. I’ve never seen him do those handsprings faster or those kicks more fiercely.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that wrestling is real. Amell, who is in superior shape, looked absolutely exhausted following his relatively brief match. I’m sure he, like Lawrence Taylor before him, would agree that pro wrestling requires the most energy than any other sport.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Big Show is taking these chants personally. You can see it in his face, but more importantly, you can see it in the extra effort he is putting into those matches. Molasses-level slow as it may have been, Paul Wight has no need to pull off a second rope somersault senton, but he did it, probably just so we’d all shut up.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that WWE, after all these years, can still surprise me. I was SURE. . . TOTALLY SURE. . . that Miz was winning the title following the Shell Shocked and Skull Crushing Finale.
Oh, by the way, #RAWTaughtMe that, too. And then some.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that the Intercontinental title feud we just saw was FAR better than it should have been. I’ve been writing about it for weeks, so its not necessarily new information, but these three guys really made lemonade with a weak title, an injury, and two guys who can have some serious “go home” heat. Well done to all three combatants.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Jon Stewart can cut an excellent promo. . . And then Paul Heyman can trump it with a little bit of singing.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Bray Wyatt’s new jacket is stupid, especially when they only really show it in the dark. I get it, he has horns - Is the uber-shadows supposed to make it better?
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that head bumps looks really, REALLY bad when you don’t fully commit to them.
Look, I get it. People don’t want to get concussions, they don’t want to get hurt. I don’t blame them for that in the slightest. However, everytime Luke Harper, Kane, or most importantly, Big Show, takes a DDT by landing on their knees, I cringe. It looks. . . underwhelming, and even that’s a generous way to describe it.
It looks soft. Not Enzo and Cass soft. Like the Snuggie bear soft. Pillsbury Dough Boy soft. . . Micro-soft.
If wrestlers don’t want to take head bumps, STOP DOING THE MOVES THAT REQUIRE THEM. Save the DDT’s for guys like Neville, who can land on the top of his head and ideally not hurt himself, and life will be grand.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that wrestlers thank each other for protecting them. I don’t know if anyone else saw the little tap of appreciation Dean Ambrose gave Bray after the triple table run, but it was very sweet. There is no other explanation for it - it was a “thanks for catching me” moment. Really cool.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper would be an AMAZING tag team, and would be dominant tag team champions. I don’t know what the future holds for the Wyatt Family, especially now with Bram on board. . .
By the way, I’m really upset. Everyone on Twitter said that this guy had signed a new TNA deal, and now he’s in WWE. What gives?
What’s that? . . . . What did you say? . . . Oh, there’s a U in there? Braum?
Bray and Luke might not be booked as a tag team going forward, but they should be. Especially with that spectacled duo who just made a totally surprising WWE return.
Dudleys vs. Wyatts? Shut Up and Take My Money.
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that WWE knows how to play with the IWC’s emotions SO EASILY.
When Roman Reigns was down on the outside of the ring, completely out of view, most of us had one of two thoughts running through our head.
Ambrose is TOTALLY going to turn because Roman wasn’t there to help him!
Reigns is TOTALLY going to turn because he’s not there to help him!
Neither of those happened. Well played, WWE!
And finally, for this section anyway. . .
#SummerSlamTaughtMe that the Big 4 “PPV’s” are no longer culminating shows. Remember when Wrestlemania and Summer Slam were when feuds ended? Building for months to this epic zenith of a frenzy of a match at a major event, then both participants move on to other challenges? Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore.
Night of Champions is more than likely going to feature these matches, all stemming from feuds that happened before Summer Slam.
Ziggler and Lana vs. Rusev and Summer.
Big Show vs. Ryback
Reigns vs. Bray, or AmbReigns vs. the Wyatts plus BraUm.
For these middle of the card matches, Summer Slam was just a piece of the puzzle...
I don’t know how I feel about that.
What do YOU think? Be Heard
In the little over a year I’ve been doing this whole wrestling writing thing, one thing I’ve learned is that the best ideas are the ones that just randomly pop into my head. The big ideas I plot and plan out for days ahead of time always seem to wind up falling flat - in fact, many of them never even make it to publication. But the silly ones, like this ranking of WWE talents. . These are the ones that seem to catch fire.
Welcome to part 2, which may or may not be the end of our list. I fully intended this to be a one shot deal, but after realizing how much I was writing, I knew it had to be a multi-part epic. If you missed part 1, may I kindly direct you here to catch up.
28. Healthy Uso
I still couldn’t tell you which Uso is injured and which isn’t, nor could I tell you which one is married to Naomi. I care very little for the Usos, as currently constituted, so much so that in hindsight, they definitely should have appeared in the first part of this list.
Having said all of that, I do think there’s a spot for them in WWE once Injured Uso makes his return, and yes, this is just a cheap excuse for me to break out another favorite stable idea.
Roman Reigns, at some point, is going to turn heel. It likely won’t be in 2015, though, since he’s got way too much legitimate popularity for that. Still, when he does, he’s going to need to run a faction, and with the way he’s dressed, the perfect one would be a revision of the Samoan Swat Team. Give the Usos matching black ring gear and let them be Reigns’ accomplices. Despite the fact that she’s Tongan, most people won’t notice that, so you could add Tamina in as well.
Whether or not that happens, and it likely won’t, the Usos will need some sort of adjustment when they make their return, just like our next tandem on the list.
27. Los Matadors
What in the world is this, WWE? You’re not selling any El Torito merch, so why keep up this stable? Is it just laziness - not wanting to think of something better? Does someone owe Carlos Colon money or something? Take the masks off these poor boys and let them make something of themselves!
Yes, I still like the idea of bringing back older brother / cousin Carlito and letting them be a stable. I also mentioned, in the previous piece, having Sin Cara lose the mask and be their manager. Really, at this point, isn’t anything better than what they’re doing.
Hmm, on second thought. . .
I don’t remember who said it, whether it was on NAIpod or if Doc Manson said it, but somebody was talking about the absolute insanity of having a guy whose gimmick is SOLELY based on their ring entrance, and when he wrestles on RAW, you don’t show said entrance. Boggles the mind.
I don’t have a great booking idea for Johnny Curtis, but he’s talented enough to get some sort of shot with WWE, even if he is already 34 years old. This guy needs the Tyson Kidd NXT treatment, pronto.
25. Adam Rose
Here’s my conspiracy theory of the week. Ray Lappan, the man known as Adam Rose, knew his character wasn’t going anywhere, so he took to Twitter to post some cryptic Leo Kruger tweets and try to get fan support to force WWE to change his gimmick. WWE saw this, didn’t appreciate it, and gave him this really dumb “Beef Mode” gimmick as a punishment. “You want different, now you’re different. Deal with it.”
I’m sure that’s not at all what happened, but it entertains me, so I’ll stick with it. Looks like we won’t get our #DarkRose member of the Wyatt Family, but at least this might mean he’ll be on RAW more frequently. . . Which is something.
In truth, I’m really surprised they put Brad Maddox in this tag team, and not Fandango.
Remember, as I told you in yesterday’s column, most of these guys are talents I really like. I’m a big Cody Rhodes fan, though I just happen to like 24 other guys better.
I even like the Stardust gimmick, especially now that he’s more Joker than crazy cosmonaut. Still, once this whole Stephen Amell thing goes away, isn’t that when Cody Rhodes needs to come back? I mean, it has to happen sometime, right?
23. Damien Sandow
If it weren’t for the sad state of Sandow’s current career curve, he’d be ranked much higher. Had I done this list right after his black t-shirt promo, he’d likely have been in my top ten. The number of times WWE seems to have dropped the ball on Damien is a little ridiculous.
I don’t know if this beat poet character is just a rumor or if it’s just a web thing, but Sandow has proved that when you give him a shot. . .Really, any shot that doesn’t involve Curtis Axel. . . he can make it work. Just put him back on WWE television, guys. Please?
Kane gets the top spot in this tier solely because there’s obviously going to be a resurgence of the Devil’s Favorite Demon, and considering that’ll likely be the last run of Glenn Jacob’s career, I’m looking forward to it.
This is the thing with WWE, and more specifically, with fans. We forget that sometimes the bad versions of a character (bad as in not popular, not bad is in heelish) exist so that when they bring back the good (ie, beloved) version, the crowd will pop all the harder.
Trust me, if Kane comes out in the red and the mask, people are going to go crazy, both in the arena and on Twitter.
These are the talents I like, though I’m not over the moon for any one of them.
21. Darren Young
I’ve never known what to make of Darren Young, besides the fact that he looks a whole lot like John Cena. I’m happy enough with him as part of the Prime Time Players, but if and when they break up (and since you’ve hopefully read my work from Monday, you know when and why I think they should), I’m not sure where DY goes from there.
WWE doesn’t have the depth, creatively and booking-wise, to create a homosexual character that isn’t just a caricature. Beef Mode, which I mentioned earlier, is the only way to know how to do it. They don’t seem to understand that being gay, or being black, doesn’t have to be the entirety of a gimmick. Bret Hart wasn’t just Canadian (except at the end) and Goldberg wasn’t just Jewish. It was part of a bigger picture.
And this is coming from the guy who just pushed a Samoan and Puerto Rican stable.
20. Randy Orton
Like with Sandow, had this ranking been done around Wrestlemania time, Randy would have been higher. Orton was on fire feuding with Rollins - passionate, dedicated, making every moment must-see. Now, he’s feuding with Sheamus, and all of that passion seems to have dwindled rather quickly.
This, my friends, is Randy Orton. When he’s in or around the main event, he gives 110%. When he’s in the midcard, and he knows it, his performance level drops to match. I can’t necessarily blame him for that, to be honest, but I also can’t sing his praises too highly, either.
Is Kalisto going to be the next Rey Mysterio? Absolutely not. Kalisto will never come anywhere close to the World title picture - At best, he’ll have a moment like Neville had on RAW, wrestling the world champion and maybe having a near fall or two.
That doesn’t mean Kalisto isn’t exciting and couldn’t be a WWE force for years to come, because he absolutely can. He’s just being held down now as part of a tag team. He really needs to go out on his own so he can show us all what he can truly do.
I still see no reason why he should be holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, but I’m a fan of Sheamus, especially (in fact, exclusively) as currently packaged. The Irish Viking look works for me, and he’s doing possibly some of his best work ever, character wise, in 2015.
Here’s a guy who could be bringing some prestige back to the IC title, especially if he held it for 6-8 months and helped elevate some talent as he did so. I don’t want the Sheamus Open Challenge or anything, but feuds with guys like Kalisto, Cody Rhodes, Sandow and the like would be great for everyone involved.
17. Dean Ambrose
I’m not as high on Ambrose as just about everyone else in the world, and I’m OK with that. He’s had moments of brilliance, but he hasn’t had a string of impressive showings, both in ring or on camera, since he was hiding in trunks and taking taxi cabs to the ring.
Maybe that’s because WWE is a PG company, or maybe it’s because this character truly would be better as a heel. You can’t be a Lunatic Fringe (whatever that is) and be a good guy at the same time.
This is why I remain steadfast with my prediction that Dean turns on Roman at Summer Slam, forming an unholy alliance with Bray Wyatt. If I keep talking about it, maybe it’ll happen. Let me dream, dang it!
16. Titus O’Neil
I’ve sung his praises for the last few days, and I mean every word of it, but that still doesn’t mean I’m hanging his picture up on my wall or anything. Titus truly could be World Champion one day, but there’s still quite a bit of work that needs to happen before then.
Regardless, considering I didn’t even want O’Neil wasting NXT time a few months ago, I’d consider this a pretty healthy ranking for him. If they keep giving him chances to talk and if he keeps being a bona fide superhero, who knows what his future holds?
15. John Cena
If 2015 was good to Titus O’Neil, in terms of my ranking, it was borderline miraculous for John Cena. I don’t think any of us expected him to make the changes he did, and while he will be returning to the main event picture at Summer Slam (and, as I’ve written, will likely win the title), that still doesn’t change how much more respect fans have for him now than they did 6 months ago.
I won’t go buy any Cena merch, but when I do chant that “John Cena Sucks”, I’m definitely doing it ironically.
14. Brock Lesnar
Were I able to rank Lesnar and Heyman as a symbiotic pairing, they’d be much higher, as Paul Heyman continues to raise the bar on promos on an almost weekly basis.
On his own, though, while I like Brock a lot, I don’t love him. Honestly, I just can’t get behind an unstoppable monster unless he, at some point in time, takes some punishment of his own. This is, and I’m sorry Mr. Moltov, why I couldn’t get behind Goldberg, and why I’m so anti-Baron Corbin. Lesnar might not be participating in squash matches, but its not that far off, either. After you see one or two, you kinda get the idea of what he’s doing.
Hopefully, at Summer Slam, Taker will be able to keep him down for a while. I’m really hoping for an actual wrestling match, not a one-sided fight.
Hmm, finding issue with Brock Lesnar and hoping for him to get beaten down a bit by Undertaker. I better stop this column here and give you time to send your hate mail and rotten produce my way.
Part 3 (the final part, I swear), will be up tomorrow.
Be sure to share your thoughts so far. Be Heard.