Welcome to the next weekly installment in a look at the Tops and Flops in professional wrestling.
Top – Brie Bella’s Return, Stephanie’s Arrest
Brie Bella has not been seen on WWE TV (except when she has) since Payback, where she threw herself in front of the proverbial bus by quitting to save her (in real life and storyline) husband Daniel Bryan’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship, slapping WWE Principal Owner Stephanie McMahon in the process. In hindsight, that was probably a dumb move on Brie’s part but WWE is looking to turn things around in her favor by bringing her back to TV in an angle with Stephanie McMahon that picked up big time on this week’s Raw.
Immediately after the opening segment on this Monday’s Raw, Nikki Bella was placed in a 4 on 1 handicap match as punishment of her sister’s actions nearly two months ago. Prior to the match, Nikki spotted her sister Brie ringside and gave her a hug before heading to the ring for her match.
Before the match could begin, Stephanie McMahon made her way down to the ringside area to confront Brie. Stephanie berated Brie with insults for her, her husband, and Nikki. Brie responded with strong wording including calling Stephanie a “bitch” which got a big reaction from fans. Stephanie then proceeded to assault Brie, and ordered Brie to be escorted out of the arena. The fans surrounding Brie reacted in a big way to this segment, which sold it that much more.
Later on in the show after a Flo Rida performance that Stephanie introduced, plain-clothed policemen appeared ringside, looking to arrest Stephanie for her assault earlier in the night. Stephanie had a look of complete bewilderment that someone of her stature could possibly be arrested. Stephanie continued to beg for the officers to let her off on self defense because Brie slapped her first. The cops didn’t buy it, and began to cuff her as Brie showed up. Security is apparently light in that building. Brie attempted to attack Stephanie as she was being cuffed, which caused security to push her away. The crowd reacted to this better than anything else on the show, which showed that Stephanie is a strong heel character in the eyes of fans.
Stephanie was then placed in a police car with Triple H berating the cops as they did so. Presumably, Stephanie will be back next week with an even more severe punishment for Brie. Personally, I can’t wait to see where this angle could go next as the kickoff to it was truly tremendous.
Flop – Raw Is Battleground
Battleground 2014 continued the annual PPV’s tradition of being almost completely devoid of anything good, except for a tag team match that delivered the goods. Everything else on the show was on par with your typical Raw (not even a good one), which is something WWE should look to avoid when their Network subscriptions aren’t as hot as they’d like them to be.
One of the biggest flaws at the event was the cancellation of a promised match, seemingly with two healthy competitors ready to go. Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins, on paper, should have been a match that stole the show and made the difference between a bad show and a good show.
After the Tag Team Championship match between The Usos and The Wyatt Family, the match between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins appeared to be next, until Dean Ambrose ambushed Seth during a backstage interview. Triple H then proceeded to kick Dean Ambrose out of the arena, cancelling the match between the two in the process. Later on, the two would get into a crazy brawl in the crowd, but the promised highlight match was never delivered.
The rest of the show was nothing special from that point on, with Jack Swagger vs Rusev being no better than an average middle-of-the-show Raw match. The finish of the match was also not definitive, with Jack Swagger being knocked out just enough to lose to a ten count. AJ Lee vs Paige was worse than I expected from those two, and the Bray Wyatt vs Chris Jericho match never seemed to quite get moving before it ended. The Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Championship was fine, even good at points, but had plenty of sloppiness and a questionable winner in The Miz. Cesaro was also eliminated by Heath Slater, his final act as yet another failed “Heyman Guy.”
The remaining match was the four-way main event for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Better than any other match except the tag team match, I wouldn’t say this match was bad. This match just felt like nothing special, and nothing I wouldn’t expect from an average Raw main event. The crowd was so excited for it, that at times that they chanted for “Daniel Bryan” and proclaimed it “Boring.”
I understand the desire to proclaim this event as unimportant with Summerslam as the big ticket on the horizon but can WWE afford to devalue these PPV shows any more than they already have? Building to the next PPV should be a goal of theirs, but sacrificing the quality of preceding shows should be avoided going forward. There was nothing wrong with the build to Summerslam beginning the next night (as it largely did).