This Week in Spandex: The Beat Down
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, Roman beats up Triple H, Brock Lesnar beats up Dean Ambrose, Emma and Asuka beat up each other, and half the roster beats up Kevin Owens.
Kieran: This week, like most week’s, I want to talk about Sami Zayn. Specifically, the seven man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. Now, I’m pretty happy that Sami is in the match, because I had a bet that he’d face Owens at WrestleMania and now I don’t have to a shot of brandy as a result, but I was really hoping it would be in a one-on-one match to close out the story that’s been running since Kevin Owens debuted on NXT. I don’t want to talk ill of the other competitors, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing which supervillain Stardust cosplays as, but I’m a bit bummed we’re not getting that singles match I crave.
Elle: I hear where you’re coming from, but I really enjoyed the way the ladder match was set up. Zack Ryder, Sin Cara, and Stardust were brought in like their involvement was a joke, but now they get to be in the match too. That said, I really hope Sami Zayn wins the Intercontinental Title, so Owens gets to be extra rage-filled and petulant as their eternal feud roars on into the future. The only other thing that really stuck with me from this slightly weird RAW was Big E vs Rusev, a match between two huge dudes who both have more main event potential than they’ve come close to fulfilling in their careers so far. I want bright futures for these Masters of the Universe-looking guys.
Kieran: We should probably talk about Roman Reigns attacking Triple H in the parking lot. I thought the initial image of the shutters going up slowly, revealing Reigns inch-by-inch like a photo on a dial-up computer was really badass, but the actual tussle was lackluster and underwhelming.
Elle: Yeah, I agree on both counts. I feel like they’re leaning too much on beatdowns in this feud because it’s the only thing involving Roman that they can count on the crowd to pop for (even if they don’t always cheer the right guy). At this point I’m ready for Roman to win the Title just so we can move on and do something else.
Kieran: I also want to talk about what the heck is going on with this secondary tag-team feud? Are we really getting The Dudleyz vs The Usos vs Golden Truth at WrestleMania? Last year, the tag-team title match was bumped to the pre-show, but the tag titles are a lot more important this year. This, though? What are the stakes? Why is this a WrestleMania match? I’d be willing to bet this is either on the pre-show or cut entirely from the show.
Elle: I have no idea. Basically all this stuff is what I’ve been paying the least attention every week. To be honest, with the Prime Time Players gone and the Lucha Dragons focusing on solo matches, my interest in main roster tag teams pretty much ends at the New Day. With that in mind, maybe this somehow leads to a debut for Enzo and Big Cass? We need something to inject life into this, because right now it’s just Uses and Olds.
Kieran: I wanna close up RAW by talking about The Undertaker and the McMahons. I feel like they’ve been trying to build this match for a couple of weeks, but there’s really nothing more that you can do other than say “Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell”. They keep adding things like how Shane is cut out of Vince’s will now, or if The Undertaker loses, it’s his last WrestleMania, but it’s kinda the inverse of that weird tag match. This match doesn’t need extra stakes. Perhaps they should have held off on the “If Shane wins, he gets control of RAW” stipulation until nearer the time? I dunno, but considering neither men are wrestling before WrestleMania, this feud has been the definition of wheel-spinning.
Elle: Look, I have nothing bad to say about a Total Divas episode in which the Queen of Wrestling Sara Del Rey shows up to offer good career advice, and Dean Ambrose hangs around to make faces at your spiritual experiences. I don’t love it when Daniel Bryan plays the self-righteous heel on this show, but even he came around by the episode’s end. Plus Paige and Foxy interfered in a fan’s life in the most positive way, so that was cool too.
Kieran: The first thing I want to talk about this week with NXT is Corey Graves’ commentary, because I love how he isn’t heel or face, he’s Corey Graves. It makes perfect sense for that guy to hate Becky Lynch, who is a face, and Elias Samson, a heel, because of who their characters are compared to what we know of him. It’s a small touch, and one he probably doesn’t put much thought into, but it’s a real solid understanding of character from a commentator and reminds me a lot of Bobby Heenan.
Elle: Just on a personal level, I got a kick out of seeing Sarah “Crazy Mary” Dobson fight Alexa Bliss in this episode, mostly because I just saw Dobson at a Queens of Combat show last weekend, in a triple threat with Jessicka Havok and Lufisto. That’s one of the fun old-school things about NXT-- when somebody shows up for a match and you’re like “Hey, I just saw them wrestle in front of 60 people at the Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium.”
Kieran: I love that the NXT crowds recognize the indie talent that come on, and they bring their chants with them. Whether it’s “Crazy Sarah!” or “Johnny Wrestling!” It must feel pretty great to wrestle on a WWE show and the crowd already knows who you are.
I also want to talk about the American Alpha vignette which made me love my little wrestle boys even more than I already did. Especially after watching the team come together on Breaking Ground and knowing how long Jason Jordan has been slugging along as enhancement talent, I’m so happy for the wrestle boys to get their shot at Takeover, and the pop’s going to be huge, should they dethrone The Revival.
Elle: I enjoyed this week’s NXT a lot, and the Emma/Asuka rematch was my favorite thing. Even though Asuka inevitably won, it made Emma look like a force to be reckoned with, and it made Asuka look like she occasionally has to try really hard to beat somebody. Which is basically what both these women needed. I love soulless heel Emma and her weirdo girlfriend Dana, but one of these days Emma needs another shot at bigger and better things, and this match made me feel like she still has that in her (and like booking knows it).
As for Asuka, she stands the best chance of taking that Women’s Championship off of Bayley that anyone has since she won it, but she’s going to have to fight the hardest we’ve seen her fight to have a chance.
Kieran: Yeah, Emma was on Main Event this week and she joined Lana’s crew with Summer Rae, another underutilized talent in the division, so hopefully we’ll see a bit more of her on RAW and SmackDown going forward. This match was great, I love how far past “Women are main eventing!” we are now and women are just main eventing and killing it. I do feel bad for Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, because their match for the NXT Championship is like my fourth most anticipated match for Takeover, but it’s such a stacked card and I’m sure they’ll do fine.
Elle: SmackDown being in Boston means Sasha Banks got to pin Charlotte, although there was some interference from Becky Lynch along the way. I’m more and more convinced that Sasha should win the Title at WrestleMania (even though Becky is my personal favorite), and I’m starting to think it might actually happen? In any case, that triple threat is going to be fire as long as they give it time, and this was a nice little preview without just being the same thing in abbreviated form.
Kieran: The Divas match is probably my second-most anticipated match at WrestleMania outside of the murder-fest of Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar, and I really hope they get to go out and give a Takeover like performance. How weird is that, though? That I’m hoping a match at WrestleMania is as good as one you’d find on a NXT special event. Anyway, you know what I mean.
I’m also really looking forward to their entrances. I hope they go all out. Charlotte needs a robe, Becky needs so much smoke machine and Sasha needs to come in a limo and be carried out by oiled up hunks in masquerade masks, so he feet don’t even touch the floor. It’s going to be something special.
Elle: I was really excited to watch AJ Styles fight Tyler Breeze, but I should have known better. Their match was basically a chance for Styles to do all his cool spots on a guy who doesn’t matter. Which is a shame because Breeze is actually awesome, and I hate how his momentum has evaporated since he came up from NXT. He never quite entered the main event scene on that show, but he was used a hell of a lot better than he is now. This guy fought Jushin Thunder Liger seven months ago, and now he’s the world’s prettiest jobber. It’s sad, is all I’m saying.
Kieran: Yeah, it’s sad that my first reaction to this match was “That’s a shame” because I knew it would be over in minutes, and it’s a match I never knew I wanted. Hopefully Tyler can just keep his head down and keep plugging away until he gets another chance, because he deserves so much more.
How was the Lesnar segment? I’ve got to wait until tonight until I can watch SmackDown in the UK, but Lesnar never works Tuesdays, so I hope it was awesome.
Elle: I mean, it was mostly a pretty typical Lesnar/Heyman segment. Brock bounced and occasionally smiled while Heyman talked him up. My favorite part was that it gave Paul Heyman the chance to say, “The only reason Terry Funk and Mick Foley are still alive today is because God refuses to answer my prayers on a daily basis.” He acknowledged the barbed-wire bat and the chainsaw, and sold Lesnar as the most dangerous weapon of all. Then the Wyatts came out to mess with Brock, and he took them down, and when Ambrose ran out with a kendo stick Brock took it from him and took Ambrose down too. The segment did a great job of setting up how badass the 'Mania match is going to be; I’ll say that.