Written in the Stars: Raw Regurgitated, 6/30

The Miz comes back, Cesaro goes insane and Roman Reigns arrives. Raw Regurgitated just for you, on the internet!

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So, there’s a lot of good in John Cena, but if this “wearing the two belts as a scarf/necklace” thing sticks, I will resign my citizenship in the Cenation have to seriously reevaluate his place in history.

They need to get better with the timing on those big picture/flag unfurls. Also, considering the budget cuts, couldn’t that “big easel” money have been spent on Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal? #3MBandAMovie

It’s nice to see that the WWE is starting to work more with the concept of scaling their stories, creating the illusion of character development or continuity by following  a simple rule: pretty much everything happens for a “reason”. Less and less of the actual bits of non-competitive exposition — mostly things that happen in backstage interviews, during promos or online but essentially everything that happens outside of the ring — is done wantonly. It’s not as though they’ve created some sort of complicated web that pulls at different strings, they’ve just learned that having characters react to situations as oppose the situations dictating the reactions allows for them to do things like naturally build a story line that will lead to a match for the Money in the Bank briefcase based on the idea that Seth Rollins might not be as smart and talented as he thinks he is. This allows Dean Ambrose to push Rollins buttons, and at some point goad him into risking the briefcase in the same way he got in the match for it in the first place.

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As Yakov Smirnoff would respond to racism being turned face because of freedom of speech: America, what a country!

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The scuttlebutts on the dirt screens were a continuation of the feud between the Wyatts and the Usos, and last night put a bow on what looks to be the best possible way for the tag team division to become a major attraction on to itself: by making it the driving force in feuds that feature other main eventers. Among the many things the WWE has finally caught on to in the last two years, they’ve realized six-man tags are — for now, at least — the panacea for whatever ails any feud, singles competitor or tag team that needs to be made into someone who “matters”. If main eventers are the trees upon all the other ornaments are placed, being able to take part in well-worked matched that only require them to do significantly less work, still get half the credit and only 1/3rd the blame has reinforced the branches of people like Bray Wyatt and even John Cena. Now, having built up the tag team using this, they’ve now reversed the dynamic and have allowed teams like the Usos to be equal partners to workers like Sheamus and guys helping out someone like Big E or (probably) Chris Jericho.

Ugh.

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I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT SOME SAD NEWS!

If the idea of a moral victory actually exists, Cesaro achieved it. Helping his cause was the Kofi Kingston’s surprise victory was so surprising they did it on the App and rendered so insignificant by what happened after that he might as well have not even won. And next week, when the face off again, the announcers get to say “Kofi Kingston beat him last week!”. So everybody wins  (kind of) in this one.

And everybody loses when Damien Sandow dressed as Vince McMahon gets beaten by The Great Khali in 45 seconds.

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The Miz, when pushed to shove back against something, is one of the more effective talkers in the company. In fact, he rode it all the way to the main event of  a WrestleMania. If this version of Miz is what they’ll be using going forward — and if he continues to wear terrible outfits that would not even remotely be okay past Labor Day — he may end up at least appearing at another WrestleMania at some point.  Jericho coming back to be fed to the Wyatts is nice too.

I hope this Dolph Ziggler-Fandango feud achieves the rare “quadruple turn” with Fandango and Layla turning face while Ziggler and Summer Rae becoming the Universe-era equivalent to Edge and Lita.

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***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS INSIDE OF KAYFABE AT ALL TIMES *** Working with the same people over and over again is literally the foundation of what professional wrestling is. At some point, fans have to get over the fact that they’ve seen someone like work with someone else a thousand times. The implication that this hasn’t been happening for the entirety of wrestling history is either intentionally naive or just ill-informed. And while this may seem like nerdy nitpicking, the idea that, for instance the Dust(y) Brothers worked with RybAxel again is a bad thing is presupposing things that ignore the nature of the product, and more importantly, how the product is viewed.

Not just in the idea of someone’s approach to watching it — whether be emotionally, intellectually or out of a total lack of other options — but how much and in which ways they consume the product. While there are some people — mostly those who cover it or spend enough time in comment sections that they might as well — who watch almost everything, even if those two teams faced each other on on every single show the WWE aired each week (Raw, Main Event, Superstars and SmackDown) the majority of the audience will have likely only seen at most two shows. In all likelihood, they only saw the matches on Raw, not nearly reaching the level of saturation that someone covering or whom watched obsessively would.

And in the case of your correspondent at least, sometimes it more than one or two matches to get a grasp on what exactly is happening in any given feud, not just in terms of the “who”, “what” and “why”  but the “how” , as in what they do in the ring to tell the story. It’s not unlike repeatedly watching a candidate’s stump speech. Of course, to the political journalist or obsessive, hearing the same speech over and over again is a type of slow torture that drives people to the bottle. But for most people, who are at best casual observers, they really don’t know what a candidate is all about until they hear what he has to say at least a handful times.

All of this is to say that I saw another side of Cody Rhodes that he had obviously been building to with this amazing Stardust character, a mirror image that showed one of the truly gifted performers of his generation. He’s managed to completely change everything about his moveset simply by inverting the nature of nearly all of his moves. Kicks become punches, back flips become front flips and up literally becomes down in certain instances. Whether or not this character goes anywhere, matches like show that Cody is one of brightest lights in a sky full of them. ***WARNING: YOU ARE NOW EXITING A WRESTLING NERD DISCUSSION ZONE *** PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC CHILI CHEESE PRETZEL DOG MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT ***

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Some people simply work better when they are the bully, the aggressor, the one who dictates pace. Most of the time, it’s enormous, imposing people or highly skilled men of slightly above average size who serve those roles, and Paige is definitely one of those people. Paige has just begun to become more dominant in her reign, creating a “championship match” dynamic that helped push her as someone to pay attention more than lead the viewer in any one direction. Did she kind of suck? Was she getting lucky? Has she really beaten anyone? These were all questions that were raised by her title reign, but this was also largely intentional. The match with AJ Lee allowed Paige to come off in a way that she had either only shown glimpses of, or never showed at all. She pushed AJ around, establishing herself as an old-style European tough willing to knock you on your arse from behind to gets what they believe belongs to them. It allowed AJ to play the subversely “plucky” underdog “face” (at least in the ring) — which is her best look, by far — and when two performers can look their best against each other, that’s a good thing.

Roman Reigns is so the future of this business it is silly.

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And the staredown between HHH and Roman Reigns almost perfectly articulates why people are so excited about Roman Reigns: these are the type of performers that the WWE very rarely screws up. They are very savvy to what to do with people who the crowd connects with the way they do with Roman Reigns: completely. Some of that is the work of the people he’s on stage with — HHH, Stephanie, Randy and Seth Rollins are all A+ players, as are Dean Ambrose and Cena (mostly) — but much of that is Reigns’ understanding of what people like about him and what parts of his character/personality he has to play when. When you have someone like Cena or Hogan or Reigns, you just strap the rocket to them and enjoy the ride.

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