Wednesday 25 February 2015

That RAW Recap 23.02.15

In addition to filler like Emma and Paige versus the Bella twins, The Ascension versus the Prime Time Players, and Ryback versus Curtis Axel the January 23 episode of RAW gave us a development that once again proved WWE is incapable of providing sensible, coherent long-term storylines. I'm talking, of course, about the return of Randy Orton.

Technically he'd come back the previous evening at Fast Lane but it was at RAW where Orton got to remind everyone of what had happened to him and reveal what he intended to do about it. For anyone who's forgotten 'The Viper' lost a match to Seth Rollins on the November 3 RAW and attacked him in fristrattion after the match. This didn't work out well for him as The Authority outnumbered him and he ended up getting Curb Stomped onto some steel steps.

What a likeable man.
After three and a half months Orton was understandably angry at Rollins and wanting some sweet, sweet revenge. In the opening segment of RAW he revealed that his attempted assault of Rollins the previous evening had been just the start. His intention was to continue attacking 'The Future' at every possible opportunity.

Which made it slightly puzzling when he agreed to rejoin The Authority and team with Rollins against Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan in the main event. The way these things usually play out is that the babyface is just stringing the heels along and using the tag match as an opportunity to get his enemy in a place where he can strike. Not so here. Orton and Rollins teamed without incident until the closing moments of the match where Rollins tagged himself in and immediately fell to Bryan's running knee.

After the match Orton lost his cool, because of S-Roll's glory-seeking behaviour, and went to Punt kick his teammate. Jamie Noble grabbed him before he could and got an RKO for his trouble. That then left Orty free to hit the Punt but instead he simply helped Rollins up and gave him a pat on the back. And not a metaphorical pat on the back, a literal pat on the back.

Everything about this booking was confusing. I've said before that moving away from clear cut heels and faces is a good move but there still needs to be character consistency. Orton was betrayed and injured by Rollins and The Authority. It makes no sense for him to rejoin. It also feels like WWE have missed an opportunity to turn Orton into a genuinely popular performer again. Yeah, people will cheer him busting out RKOs and endorse his inevitable turn on Trips and the gang but ultimately he's still shown himself to be untrustworthy and-or gullible. He was given a choice between seeking revenge on a guy he hates or rejoining a group of people who've proved they can't be trusted. He went with the option that a viewing audience is not going to empathise with.

With a better writing team this could still work. Being a poor judge of character could make someone a sympathetic figure. But even if there are writers in the company good enough to tell that sort of story (and it's not that complex so I'm sure there are) that's not the way the writing style works. We know Orton is simply going to realise he made a mistake and turn on Rollins again in time to set up a WrestleMania match between the two.

A handshake is bound to make Reigns popular.
The only other noteworthy thing about Monday's RAW was the interaction between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns mid-way through. D-Bry interrupted Reigns aimlessly discussing his accomplishments of the previous month to run him down for being nothing more than a muscle guy with no heart who fans don't like and won't cheer for. Then he swerved us by acknowledging that Reigns beat him fair and square in a tough fight and not only proved that he had heart but that he deserved to headline 'Mania.

Both men did a good job with what was asked of them. That didn't make the segment any less transparent in its intentions though. Bryan was there to convince people that Reigns isn't all bad. I'm sure it convinced some people in the arena and watching at home to stop booing Reigns and start cheering him. But unfortunately for WWE they're not people likely to shell out a four figure sum to sit in the first few rows at WrestleMania. If they want to combat the negative reaction they know Reigns is going to get on that show they're going to have to do a lot more than a Bryan endorsement.

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