Hello everyone and welcome. You've landed on Planet Kayfabe. I'm Paul Matthews or "Mr. Ass" as Aaron Rift called me on NoDQ Live despite me being more over than Billy Gunn ever was, here to give a general rundown of this week in WWE and a quick preview of Clash of Champions which takes place this Sunday in Boston, Massachusetts.
First, Raw -
The WOKEN Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt stuff was good this week, but less good than it was last week because they pretty much did the same thing twice. Matt's laugh got over, but WWE has a way of stumbling on a good joke and then beating it into the ground until it's dead and everyone stopped laughing a long time ago. Next week they better not do this again. I think the crowd accepted it just because they are excited to see where WOKEN Matt goes, but next Monday they have to do something different or else this feud will probably fall to the same fate as every other Bray Wyatt feud lately. The "WOKEN" graphic was a terrible addition, too. What made Broken Matt great was its campy charm. When you over produce it, it loses some of the heart it once had. I don't think WWE gets how small, subtle and campy can have charm and that's why Matt needs full control because if this is up to WWE everything has to be a BIG production with a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles. Just let Matt do it.
Ugh... I watch this almost with a slight fear. You all wanted BROKEN vs. Wyatt, which would have been fun maybe 2 years ago but now? f*** that. Bray's character is all but dead and he's not a quarter over that he once way and has even less of the intrigue that he used to. I wanted Matt to stay far away from Bray Wyatt, but WWE is giving them what they think they people want so hopefully it works out for the better. Honestly, I'd be fine with just seeing Matt score a quick win and that's the end of it and then he can move on to something else. If they're still feuding around WrestleMania and I see green screened maggots in the ring and a House of Horrors match or that other stupid segment in they did at the compound that one time that was like a cheap rip off of the Final Deletion I'm gonna do a back flip off my f***ing roof. All that said, Bray deserves better than this year he has had in 2017. Remember how we all felt about the Wyatt Family 4 years ago? That feels like a decade ago.
I think its funny how Dean Ambrose has been relegated to the silly errand bitch of The Shield. When that group first formed he was portrayed as their de facto leader. Raw begins with Samoa Joe cutting a promo on them in the ring and the camera cuts to backstage where Seth Rollins tells Dean to "go get Roman". So Dean rushes to alert Roman while he's taking a shit or something and whatever they come out and get their asses kicked by Joe and The Bar.
You might think I'm nitpicking and say "no one's going to remember that months from now" and you're right but it further plants the thought in the fans' mind that Dean is the lesser of the two guys. Can you picture any other combination of this? Roman telling Seth to get Dean? Or just Dean telling Seth to get Roman? Hell no. My solution? How about Joe cuts his promo and lures Roman out there like any other promo? I mean, come on...
Braun Strowman and Kane had a match to face Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble for the Universal Championship which ended in a double count-out. So, the match is going to be a Triple Threat and Kane is going to eat the fall. One thing I thought was funny since Rift talks about buzzwords in WWE all the time... Here's another buzzword/phrase for you. "FIRST TIME EVER!" I swear to f***ing God in Heaven WWE will hype up anything they can, no matter how small and tainted as a huge deal if it is technically the first time it has happened in WWE. In Kane's promo he said that he was going to defeat Braun Strowman and go on to face Brock Lesnar for the FIRST TIME EVER! This company has promoted matches as the "first time ever" over much smaller things, too. I swear if John Cena and Randy Orton face each other for the ten-thousandth time only this time the match had some weird obscure stipulation, WWE would still promote it as it being the FIRST TIME EVER. Can't miss it! I'll tell you what, I'm glad it's not going to just be Kane vs. Lesnar at the Rumble. If it's never happened before, I consider ourselves lucky.
Now on to Smackdown -
With Jinder and the Singh Brothers getting the heat on AJ it gives me a little comfort that AJ will retain his title at the PPV. At least... he better. I think it's funny how us, the loyal fans who have not fallen to the ranks of the millions (and millions) who have turned off this program had to sit through a horrible six month Jinder Mahal world title run to try and establish a fan base in India all for Jinder to drop the title before the tour of India and then take a job to Triple H clean in the middle of the ring. God damn... if HHH beats this guy at a house show AJ damn well better be going over at the PPV.
The Daniel Bryan angle has been interesting. Owens and Zayn have been a good heel duo. Bryan inserting himself in the tag match as the 2nd guest referee vs Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura was interesting, but later in the show they kinda gave away what I thought the finish would be. The angle is interesting because they are trying to tease that Bryan is sympathetic to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who he has known for over a decade. Either that or Bryan thinks that Shane is overstepping his authority and isn't so much sympathetic as much as he thinks Shane is letting his feelings for Owens and Zayn cloud his better judgement when dealing with them.
The headline on WWE's official website says "Did Daniel Bryan show his true colors during Nakamura vs. Owens?" Well... what are his true colors? That he's fair? Nothing dirty happened. Bryan put on the referee's shirt and he counted Nakamura's pin on Owens. Owens kicked out and hit the Pop-up Powerbomb on Shinsuke and Daniel counted the 1-2-3. What was he supposed to do? Refuse to count and be what we assume he thinks Shane is going to be in the match at Clash of Champions?
This leads to one of my other favorite WWE-isms. It's like WWE's version of the Highlander. The referee is laying on his ass out cold and Daniel Bryan takes off the referee's shirt and BECOMES THE REFEREE!!! It's one of those wacky bits of WWE logic that fans have come to accept, but it's so silly when you think about it. I mean, come on. He takes the ref's shirt and suddenly assumes all responsibilities that come with being an in-ring official in this sanctioned match. That's just wild. Like, I can't imagine watching and NFL game and the referee gets laid out and suddenly the commissioner, Roger Goodell, comes on the field, takes off the official's shirt and starts making calls and throwing penalty flags. Only in WWE, my friends.
Outside of this Bryan was great on commentary. He referenced Kevin Owens trying to rip his eyes out on the indies and Byron tried using the "that happened outside of WWE, so it doesn't count" excuse and Bryan made him sound like such an idiot. The guy tried to rip his eyes out and it "doesn't count"? I like this interesting position Bryan is in. He wants out, but they don't want to release him so he can pretty much say whatever he wants on TV and get away with it. It's like Bret Hart in WCW. Bryan is a pro, though. He goes out there and cuts some good promos and invests himself in these storylines, but when he has a clear shot to go off he's not afraid to take it.
Quick picks for WWE Clash of Champions
Pre-Show - Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley (Singles Match)
Mojo is my pick. Seems obvious enough. He just turned. This is his first match since turning. Pretty simple.
Breezango vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Tag Team Match)
Similar to above. The Bludgeon Brothers are a new (ish) act and they're probably going to go over the comedy sideshow of Breezango.
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Natalya (Lumberjack match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship)
I think they stick with Charlotte to retain. It could turn into a clusterf*** with the Lumberjacks but a fun clusterf***. It's almost expected, right?
Baron Corbin (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler (Triple threat match for the WWE United States Championship)
Baron Corbin will likely retain. Dolph winning would just be a waste of time and I don't see Bobby Roode winning the title in this type of match. He had an early beef with Corbin and it would make sense for him to beat him in a one-on-one match. Here I see Dolph eating a pin from Corbin and he and Roode will continue their feud without him. Poor Zig.
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable vs. Rusev and Aiden English (Fatal four-way tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
Damn, speaking of clusterf***s. This match could either be very entertaining for a huge mess. Either way I'm once again sticking with the champions to retain.
Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn ( Tag team match with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as special guest referees. Plus, If Owens and Zayn lose, they will be fired from all of WWE)
This angle is weird. How does Shane have the authority to fire Owens and Zayn from the WWE? He doesn't. Only Vince would have that power. Why over-reach like that? Is saying they'd be fired from Smackdown not enough? It's like they asked for too much and it's even harder for the fans to suspend disbelief because not one single person watching this show believes that Kevin and Sami will be FIRED if they lose this match. No one.
Like I said earlier the ending of Smackdown was more or less what I thought the finish of this match would be. Shane gets knocked out and Daniel Bryan makes the reluctant pin fall. Owens left Smackdown with a win and usually fans lean towards the "looks weak on TV/win on PPV" theory but... we know they aren't losing because there is no logical way they can be fired from WWE and still continue this angle. What were they thinking coming up with that stipulation? Just say they're fired from Smackdown. The only way the fans would bite on this angle is if news got out that Kevin and Sami's real-life contracts were up soon and they were using this as a way to write them off.
Anyway my pick is Owens and Sayn to win. Probably in similar fashion that we saw on TV this week only I'm assuming there will be a disagreement between Shane and Bryan, initiated by Bryan on how Shane is handling the match. With there being constant rumors of Daniel Bryan wrestling in WWE again, while the likelihood seems remote, I guess there's a good chance he and Shane work a match at WrestleMania if Daniel takes a bump here. Not a huge bump, but a decent enough bump that fans aren't expecting him to take as a retired worker.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh Brothers (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
Pretty much said all I had to about this earlier in the column. Jinder looked strong on TV so that makes me think AJ is retaining meaning no titles will change hands according to my predictions. Also is good booking means anything, why should AJ lose? Hunter beat Jinder at a house show clean in the middle of the ring a week ago. We don't need crazy overbooked Russo bullshit here to get the belt back on Jinder. Just let the most popular full timer in the company, AJ Styles, run with it and continue to put on great matches. Take fan bias out of it, especially after Jinder lost to HHH, it makes the most sense from a booking standpoint, so my pick is AJ Styles to retain.
There's my thoughts on this week in WWE plus a quick preview of WWE Clash of Champions this Sunday in Boston, MA. I'll be back next time with a review of the PPV. Also, this Monday I'll be at Raw in Providence, Rhode Island so I'm looking forward to that and maybe share some thoughts on the experience. So, if you're in the area and you wanna meet up and say hi, just look for me. I'll be the 18-to-34 year old male wearing a black shirt.
By the way, special merry Christmas to all the talented wrestlers who had to put over lifetime jobber Jinder Mahal this year to try and make him a star in one country where he would eventually be eating a loss to Triple H. Great job, guys!
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