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Monday Night Raw 5/20/13 – Ryback rules at Batista impersonations

Monday Night Raw 5/20/13 – Ryback rules at Batista impersonations

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As suspected, Extreme Rules was greatly superior to Wrestlemania in terms of match quality, length and storytelling. How do they keep getting this show so right, and the Grandest Stage of Them All so wrong? It’s not worth dwelling over; let’s instead focus on the pay-per-view itself, namely the fact that they’ve incorporated a ridiculous sports desk for pundits (wrestlers) to offer comment on the evening. The thing is, the likes of Wade Barrett and Titus O’Neill are less inclined to provide insightful analysis than brag about their own prowess. They’re asked a question and then respond with an irrelevant rant about how they’re going to dominate. Imagine watching Jamie Redknapp boast in the Sky Sports newsroom about how he’s far better than Messi. That’s what we’re seeing here, people.

Elsewhere on Extreme Rules, WWE solved the conundrum of pulling the trigger on Ryback by having him and Cena dive into an ill-timed explosion. These Last Man Standing matches get more heinous every year as creative scratch their collective heads figuring out where they can conceivably take the concept next. (I do believe the gimmick reached its nadir when Cena duct taped Batista’s leg to the ring-post.) It’s unlike the Hell in a Cell match, where Foley’s dive more or less ruled out the greatness of any other forthcoming Cell bout; with Last Man Standing, things just get more nuts with every passing year.

So now Ryback wants Cena again, at Payback, in an ambulance match. To clarify, he drove an ambulance down to ringside – extremely slowly, yet described as “speeding” by Cole – and stuffed Zack Ryder in the back, which has to be the exact same thing Kane did last year, surely? On this occasion, however, Cena didn’t come to Ryder’s aid; either he’s sick of bailing that kid out of ambulances or he’s enacting a test to see if Zack pulls a hissy fit regarding ‘loyalty’ in the same manner as Ryback. Watching Ryback stand atop the ambulance and moan about Cena, I couldn’t help but feel that, with the character demystified and reduced to an angry warble, he now resembles Batista far more than Goldberg.

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Fandango must have read my post last week, because he made a point of dancing to his music on last night’s episode right around the time he should have been teaming in the ring with Barrett against Jericho and The Miz. There’s something inherently hilarious about the idea of a man who joins a wrestling event with the express intent to dance instead. Also, Barrett came out to new entrance music and a new – correct – homeland of Preston, England. But forget him; if you were watching the WWE App you saw Road Dogg assert that he could ‘wipe the floor with Fandango’. By the time I post this article I want that feud booked.

Yes, WWE is really pushing this whole app thing. Aside from voting for Jack Swagger’s opponent between Khali, R-Truth and Orton – a foregone conclusion if ever there was one – we can still watch people watching people. This week, we saw the Bella Twins watching a Divas match, while the Divas match was taking place. We can also watch things that happened during the break, as well as watch things that happened on the app during the break. There’s a good chance we can also watch someone watching someone else on the app during the break. Well, I have one question: Who watches the Watchmen?

A couple of weeks have passed and Kaitlyn is still none the wiser as to who her secret admirer is, despite living in the technological 21st century. The camera’s conveniently nearby every time she brings it up, which means her love-life is part of a storyline… which means it may also be a prank… which means it’s probably a prank on the part of AJ. Since the WWE App likes watching people all the time, maybe it could put itself to good use and find Kaitlyn’s stalker? It’s becoming like Big Brother for all the superstars backstage and yet still the WWE cameras can’t root out an incessant lovelorn texter among their ranks.

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The biggest surprise of the night was Heyman’s unveiling of his new client as Curt Axel, formerly Michael McGillicutty – *shudder* – and real name Joe Hennig, son of the late, great Mr. Perfect. Axel isn’t perfect on the mic (I’m here all week), but he’s more than adept in the ring and has ample time to grow under the tutelage of one mad genius of a mentor. More surprising was Triple H’s invitation for a match in the main event. “Trips has to put him over, or the push is over,” I thought. No, Trips decided to instead lose all his bearings at ringside and stare at Mike Chioda as if he’d just fallen in love. This could potentially lead to an interesting story arc culled from real life whereby a wrestler’s body – Hunter’s in this case – steadily gives up on him. The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

What to make of Curt Axel? More importantly, where to put him? The midcard scene is teeming already and it doesn’t look as if The Shield is about to drop gold any time soon. The main event scene is similarly focused on establishing Ziggler and Ryback as formidable heels. At least they got his name right. As far as looks are concerned, Axel resembles Mike Knox a little too much for my liking. But it’s early days, and this young star – finally getting his break after years of pre-show jobbing – will rise or fall depending on the competency of the E’s creative team. Let’s hope they do him, and his father, proud.