This Week In Spandex: The Perfect 10
Here at ComicsAlliance we’ve noticed a huge overlap between superhero comics fans and wrestling fans; wrestling is basically superhero theater. This Week in Spandex is a new weekly feature, in which longtime wrestling fan Kieran Shiach and enthusiastic recent convert Elle Collins summarize the week that was in WWE.
This week (in spandex), AJ Styles was secretly a baddie all along, the McMahons continue to drag down the whole show, and we're graced with the presence of The Perfect 10.
Kieran: I’ve said before that I find RAW most compelling when there’s a throughline holding the show together --- I even said it last week --- but this week’s episode of RAW just wasn’t that. My biggest complaints this week concern the McMahons, so I’m going to do them both up top real quick.
You can call up as many people as you want from NXT, you can put on amazing matches every week, but I’m not going to call it a New Era when RAW takes 20 minutes to get going every single week. It’s my biggest pet peeve, and it’s always so predictable. Pre-WrestleMania, The Authority opened the show. Post-WrestleMania, Shane and Stephanie open the show. I’m so bored! All you need is pyro, Michael Cole telling people about the main event, first match. I hate to say “That’s how it was done in the Attitude Era” but that’s how it was done in the Attitude Era and it bloomin’ well worked!
Elle: You’re not wrong, Kieran. I was also really annoyed by the illogical way the opening promo ended. It was like they couldn’t figure out a way out of that mess, so they just turned the lights off. The McMahons were in the ring doing their thing with the New Day, the Vaudevillains interrupted, and suddenly Michael Cole appeared to announce the tag team match. When the camera cut back to the ring, Shane and Steph were just gone. Aren’t we supposed to believe that they run this show? Are they just scared of the Vaudevillains? It’s not that I was sad to see them gone, but I was really distracted by how little sense it made.
Kieran: This came later in the show, but it involves a McMahon. What the heck was up with that Stephanie/Charlotte backstage segment? That had my blood boiling with how bad it is. Charlotte finally, finally, finally scraped and clawed her way to being the big bad heel we all hoped she could be, but no-one can be bigger or badder than Stephanie so here we are. The worst bit was when Charlotte tried to speak and Stephanie interrupted her as if to say, “This isn’t a conversation,” and then just kept going. Charlotte looks terrible, Stephanie looks terrible, no-one benefits.
The two tag matches at the start of this week’s RAW were fine, and we’ll talk more about The Club later. I don’t remember a single thing from The Usos v Breezango, but I do remember that sweet powerslam on the outside by Goldust. Boy, do I love a good powerslam.
Elle: I’m very frustrated by Breezango, because I feel like they could be a legit tag team, but instead they’re just a joke in the service of this interminable build up for the Golden Truth, who are also a joke. Don’t get me wrong; I know WWE is terrible in too many ways for a tag team as unapologetically effeminate as Breezango to get over even if they actually tried, but it just feels like they’re teasing me.
Kieran: I wonder if anyone who started watching with the Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns promo thought that maybe they’d just tuned in because it was another 20 minute promo segment that accomplished next to nothing. We already know Seth cowardly but opportunistic, we know Reigns is The Guy. Are we going to see either of them wrestle anyone before they wrestle each other at Money In The Bank. I’m feeling extra salty this week, but this is a wrestling show, right?
Elle: Look, I’m salty too. How do you let Roman speak, and not let Seth speak? One of these guys is good at talking, and the other one isn’t. You messed up an easy thing, WWE.
Kieran: It took me a while to understand why everyone was making cheese references this week, but then I remembered Wisconsin is made of cheese or something? I don’t understand America. I do. however, love seeing how much connection Enzo and Cass have with the crowd, even if it just Big Cass listing slightly different variations on cheese.
Elle: Wisconsin is where all the cheese in America comes from, and as you may know, Americans love cheese. I mean, obviously cheese comes from other places these days, but that’s still what Wisconsin is known for. Big Cass naming cheeses was awesome. These guys can turn literally anything into gold on the mic, and I’m all about it.
You know what else I’m weirdly all about? Apollo Crews and the Big Show being bros. I’d kind of love to see Show transition into a manager role, and be a mentor to young guys on the roster. Let him display a little more of his real life personality, which is incredibly charismatic and down-to-Earth, and I think it could work. But of course, that’s probably not where this is going. Even in this New Era, it’s hard not to expect that Big Show will turn heel again in a couple of weeks and beat down Apollo for no good reason. Oh well.
Kieran: The John Cena/AJ Styles segment felt like another 20 minute thing, and I guess they’re just doing these on the hour now, but I liked it the most. I liked how they played with our expectations as to how tag team matches are set up to surprise us with AJ’s heel turn. I’m excited to see where it goes from here, so long as we get John Cena and The New Day together with Xavier Woods playing “The Time Is Now” on trombone. They’ll probably make an “unexpected Cena” reference too, now I think about it.
Elle: I’m up for all of that. Honestly, I want the New Day to stay as close to this feud as possible, because if it’s just Cena and the Club, I just know they’re going to have a bunch of arguments about who’s the realest manliest real man, and nothing in this world is more boring. That’s why we need some booty dancing unicorn people to keep things lighter and less conventionally gendered.
Kieran: We got one women’s match this week, which was an improvement on last week, but it’s still not enough when you have three hours per show. I must sound like an old record at this point, but it really does feel like WWE are kinda reverting to type now that the buzz around the Diva’s Revolution has died down. People aren’t paying attention as closely now that the division has had its big WrestleMania moment, and we’re much, much worse off for it.
Elle: God I wish I could tell you you’re wrong about this, but you’re totally right. It feels like there’s barely even a Women’s Division anymore. I know Emma and Sasha are injured, but where are Alicia Fox and Naomi? I feel like Paige has either asked for time off or made somebody backstage mad. Even Eva Marie, who nobody liked but it seemed like the company was going to push forever, has vanished off the face of the Earth. I’m worried about the Women’s Division in the upcoming brand split. Either they call up more NXT women, bring back some of the disappeared, and have a women’s roster on each show, or they keep the smaller number of women and only have women on one show. It’s hard to imagine them pulling off the former, and if they do the latter I’m not going to be very inclined to watch the all-male show.
Kieran: Also, I would have preferred Dana come out to her own music the who way, as opposed to 10 seconds of it followed by Charlotte’s.
Elle: Yes! What even was the deal with that? I love Dana’s music. Most WWE theme songs only have one line that sticks with you (they don’t want none), and it’s so great that Dana’s is “I’m not your enemy,” because that line is true of exactly one person at any given time.
Kieran: Finally, I enjoyed the main event quite a bit, but it felt kind of inconsequential. Are we still waiting for a seventh person to be announced for the Money In The Bank? It seems like we are. I’d be happy with six though if I’m misremembering. I really liked the story of this match being that Kevin Owens wants to be Chris Jericho’s friend, and gets increasingly angry that Jericho has written him off, that was fun.
Elle: I think they cut the Money in the Bank match down to six people. Last week there was an empty silhouette in the promo image, but this week that was gone. It’d be great if they’d tell us these thing instead of hoping we don’t notice when they make changes, but here we are.
Kieran: This isn’t a complaint, but man NXT feels so long, right? There’s only a handful of things that can happen in an hour of programming, and NXT always feels more substantial than three hours of RAW.
It was cool to see Gargano & Ciampa stand up to The Revival and really stake their claim as vital members of the NXT roster, rather than indie dudes that come in occasionally. I’m even happier that they won the following match, which is a huge win for them and makes them NXT’s #3 team via the transitive property. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see them on a RAW or a SmackDown, but they’re killing it on NXT at the moment.
Elle: Honestly this match was the first time I’ve been particularly into Gargano and Ciampa, so I guess the plan worked. The Revival are such great old school heels that anybody who holds their own with them looks extra legit, just on a pure wrestling level, separate from who’s on the top of the division.
Kieran: I’m going to be hyperbolic again, as is my wont, but there is nothing more fun in wrestling right now than “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger. Everything about him from his gait, to his body language, to the way he wrestlers is so perfect for his character. I get so excited when I hear his music start up, and I’m glad to see him get a win and be a little bit more than enhancement talent.
Elle: Dillinger is fantastic. I don’t know that I’m quite as into him as you are, but that’s a high bar. And he was a great first singles opponent for sad and lonely Buddy Murphy. I like to imagine Murphy living in that depressing apartment building that Milhouse’s dad moved into when he got divorced. He’s got no Blake, no Alexa, but he sleeps in a racing car. Do you?
Kieran: Austin Aries is boring and Elias Sampson isn’t much better. I don’t have much to say about this match, but I’m looking forward to seeing the former get kneed in the face.
Elle: I am honestly so relieved that so few people are into Austin Aries. When he came to NXT he was set up as this big important cool indie guy, I was so bored by him I was thinking, “Am I missing something? Am I not an experienced enough fan to understand why he’s cool?” But now it feels like lots of people are on the same page as me, and that’s comfortable. I’d still rather watch other people wrestle, though.
Kieran: Finally for NXT, the Women’s Championship contract signing. I love how big a deal it’s portrayed to be, and I love that Asuka’s starting to look a little bit vulnerable. Nia Jax is getting a lot more confident on the microphone as well, that line about how she broke Bayley was excellent. Once again, the women’s match is the match to look forward to at Takeover and I can’t wait.
Elle: I love contract signings, because I basically love anytime that wrestlers come to the ring in street clothes. It’s a little weird that Asuka doesn’t dress cooler, though. The beige jacket and mom jeans aren’t what you usually see on somebody with half green/half magenta hair. But I’m getting off track. As much as I might want to take Asuka shopping, I never want her to yell at me in Japanese, because that’s terrifying. And yeah, I’m enjoying Nia Jax on the mic lately too. This is going to be a good match.
Elle: I got a kick out of seeing Becky Lynch fight Charlotte, as I always do. These two know each other so well that even when the match is inconsequential it’s always worth watching. Of course this had a schmozzy finish with Dana Brooke and then Natalya getting involved, but there was some real wrestling before it came to that. I like so much of what’s going on here, and I really hope it’s leading to a one-on-one title match with Becky. Obviously, I also hope Becky gets a run as Women’s Champion eventually, but I know that’s not coming around just yet. If I have one complaint, it’s that I find Natalya so much less interesting than these other three. She’s a fantastic wrestler, and such a veteran that I’m sure she’s helping all of these girls out a lot behind the scenes. But her character just doesn’t work for me. Every time she’s on the mic, she just comes off like the neurotic mom of the Women’s Division, and that’s just never going to be very exciting.
Kieran: I am glad that they are doing stuff with Nattie, because with all of the New Era stuff, she could have just faded away and she deserves more than that, but this feud ran its course after the first match.
Elle: Speaking of characters I can’t get into, did you know Jack Swagger’s still on the roster? And weirdly, he was super over with this crowd in his match against Rusev, and frankly? I thought it was pretty gross. Swagger came out wearing his red, white, and blue T-shirt with the American flag on it, and when it came off, his singlet underneath had a “Don’t Tread on Me” snake on the back. As a Brit, Kieran, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the politics that snake implies in this century, but they ain’t good. The fact that WWE expects me to root for a blond Oklahoman steeped in conservative iconography when he’s fighting a hard-working immigrant (whose primary trait is how much he loves his fiance) is, frankly, insulting. Even the fact that Rusev was being his most brutal didn’t help. I was basically cheering, “Yeah, break his arm, Rusev! Crush that nativist jerk!”
Kieran: All I know about the snake is that it was in one of the Assassin’s Creed games a bunch, but I think I get the gist. WWE’s obsession with pro-America stuff is so weird to me, because I once saw Rusev v Big Show in Manchester, England and the crowd chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” throughout. I know people like to chant the things they see on TV, but that was weird to me.