Tuesday 18 November 2014

That RAW Recap 17.11.14

The main thing I picked up from this week's RAW was that everyone on Team Cena has a reason to defect to Team Authority. Depending on how you look at things that’s either a deft bit of writing or a happy accident. I'm inclined to believe it's an accident. But hey, at least they got there.

The thing is it shouldn't be an accident. WWE has been doing what it does for decades and employs so many people to contribute to their creation direction that it's not unreasonable to expect them to produce a top notch show more often than not. This week was not a top notch show. Nor was it a second notch show. It was closer to a bottom notch show. It was, to put it bluntly, bad.

And the reason for this is that their preparation for the Survivor Series pay-per-view was ill-thought-out. On the one hand yes, it made sense to have Team Authority once again perform the divide and conquer routine. But on the other hand…

On the other hand we had Ryback declaring himself to be on Team Ryback (there’s a T-shirt waiting to happen) before being positioned as the saviour of the day by aiding Cena and chums at the end of the show. We had Triple H basically cutting a babyface promo about why he should remain the heel authority figure. We had Erick Rowan demanding he be given stuffed animals and then joining Team Cena. We had Team Cena being picked apart and Cena doing absolutely nothing about it even though that directly contradicted his Hustle, Loyalty, Respect mantra.

The worst thing about this episode should have been that it was guest hosted by a cat. Instead that's not really worth mentioning because so much of the important stuff went wrong and did so at such a basic level that it never stood a chance of coming across well on screen.

Chances are that one of these men will be turning. Not Cena though, obvs.
But as I said up at the top at least the end result of RAW was a desirable one. It feels as though Cena's team is unstable. That plays well in storyline terms as it helps to present the team as underdogs. It also means that the swerve turn which seems inevitable has an element of unpredictability to it: if everyone has a reason for turning it makes it tougher to accurately say who will.

Ryback is the most logical choice for the turn, considering his declaration that he's loyal only to himself these days. He's the kind of character who'll do what benefits him at any given moment so if an opportunity comes up to help an already winning Authority then it would be utterly in character for 'The Big Guy' to take it. But it's possible the recent booking of Ryback has been designed to make us think this. If Ryback refuses an opportunity to benefit himself and remains loyal to his team it would come across as a key moment for him. It wouldn't erase the messiness of the previous few weeks but it would be enough to satisfy most people that he'd seen the error of his ways and gone full babyface (until his next heel turn, obvs). It could, in other words, cement him as a top line face, albeit in an unnecessarily convoluted manner.

Erick Rowan wouldn't be much of a surprise either. Since being "released" (anyone else think that sounds needlessly sexual?) by Bray Wyatt he's been presented as a creepy stalker dude and a simpleton who enjoys toy cats more than the average man. The character is clearly low on mental stability, which means little reason is needed for him to betray Cena. It doesn't hurt that his former Wyatt Family teammate is on the opposite team. Luke Harper could convince Rowan to walk out on the match, indirectly helping The Authority. More likely Harper will give that a try and Rowan will Eugene up and slap him about.

Big Show was offered a 2015 Hall of Fame spot and a chance to be a headliner again if he turned on Cena. That's more reason than his usually has for turning. The current heel and face line-ups and his feud with Mark Henry make me think a Show turn is unlikely. But, y’know, it’s Show. Never bet against him turning.

Not officially part of the team anymore is Sheamus. He was wiped out with a World's Strongest Slam through the announce desk. It's peculiar that this was enough to take the fightin' Irishman out when he would have made a comeback within minutes had it occurred during a match. But this was apparently so devastating that he'll be unable to compete for at least seven days.

It's possible this was done to set Sheamus up as a last minute surprise for Team Cena. More likely, but also more puzzlingly, WWE felt that Rowan would be a better fit for the team and Roman Reigns or Bad News Barrett will get the surprise partner treatment. If that's the route taken a Sheamus turn is still possible. All it would take is one of the active team members to get "injured" mid-match and taken backstage, leaving Shaymo to come charging in as a replacement (because the injured party wouldn’t have been eliminated) before swerve turning. Yes, this approach would raise the question of what The Authority's plan would have been had the mid-match injury not occurred but this is WWE and they won't care about that.

Finally there's Dolph Ziggler. We've seen him step up into the number two babyface spot over the last month and he's been adamant about standing up to The Authority. Which, in a WWE storyline, is exactly the kind of thing that would usually preface him going bad. That he's also the worst person WWE could turn heel from the team, because he's so incredibly popular, is also concerning. It would be such an obvious mistake to have 'The Show Off' go bad that it's worryingly easy to imagine WWE making it.

We have Cena to thank for this.
At least if it were to happen Ziggler would have a logical reason for turning: siding with Cena cost him his Intercontinental championship and Cena just sat in the back and watched him lose it unfairly. Yes, Cena lolled around in the back, probably on his private coach, as Cena was beaten down by Seth Rollins, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury and then lost the IC gold to Luke Harper. Also on the plus side for a Ziggles turn is the fact that a series of Ziggler versus Cena matches would probably be the most desirable thing for Cena over the next couple of months. Not that that’s enough to make me want to see it. I’d much prefer Ziggler to stay a face with his current positioning.

The 2014 Survivor Series is an important show for WWE, as I’ve written before and will write again tomorrow in my preview. Their recent episodes of RAW have not reflected that. There have been some good aspects, most notably the importance of the Survivor Series main event coming through, but overall it’s been a sloppy affair with WWE struggling to find ways to tie a large number of performers together in one storyline. This RAW typified that.

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