Nevermind the Buzzards, Here's The Wyatt Family

Raw Regurgitated, 1/18
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There was absolutely no reason for this opening segment between to go 15 minutes just for the button to be “I’m not doing anything, you wanna fight?”. The post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy of “saying that negates everything you did before” ignores that people don’t actually think or talk that linearly, but making Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho trade off their impression of how they think cool people act is a waking nightmare.

At least we got a Roman-Rusev match out of the ordeal. I was just happy that he had put on a shirt, but the crowd seemed SUPER into the (ugh) antics of Chris Jericho as special guest referee. In fact, as terrible as it’s been to watch, people like Chris Jericho in the same way they liked late-period Shawn Michaels or modern-era Ric Flair. While they understand that he’s essentially doing heel things, unless it’s actively done to the “good guys”, it’s going to be accepted by most of the people watching as “good ole” Whomever. And there are worst things than that. Like whatever the hell Chris Jericho keeps putting on to come down to the ring.

Clearly the number two goon squad on the roster, the League of Nations are still striving out here. Though Sheamus on the mic is so bad it makes him sympathetic. Maybe Sheamus and Wade Barrett switch places, so that the one who can work can work and the one who can talk can talk, but never the twain shall meet.


This Paige-Nattie pairing made no sense beyond tying in directly to Total Divas. But, while there are obvious canonical issues of shoehorning these anachronistic – because Total Divas exists in an entirely different time and space as a separate part of the WWE multiverse, like Action Comics and Superman do for DC – the real issue is having this weird as mindfuck of a throwaway storyline clogging up one of the two spuegments women get a week. Why not, during Total Divas season, have three segments instead two for your female performers? You can have anyone pulling double duty for them wear glasses to show that time had passed, so people would know which segments were taking place in which timeline.

Speaking of alternate universes, it’s ever-increasingly obvious that while there was a slight chance they may eventually win a tenth set of WWE Tag Team titles, that for right now, the Dudley boys appear to be stuck in enda timeloop where they keep trying to push Braun Strowman up a mountain, only to be throw off it and through a table.

And while the end of the show – which we’ll get to later – gilded the lily, things like this (and even their loss on Smackdown!) have made it very clear that although the Wyatts never seem to lose fights  and rarely lose matches anymore. Which is not a bad characterization to have in a TV show about a fake fighting league where and you're a hillbilly with the best goon squad in the business.

The Big Show may have made short work of them, but there is this kind of weird joie de vivre that the #SocialOutcasts have when performing. It’s as though no one told them they weren’t over, so they went about assuming that everyone knew their greatest hits and play them as hard as they can at every show. While I have my quibbles with Rose, between their shirts and their pre-match promos, they are slowly but surely burrowing a place in my heartspace.



There’s a metaphor to be found in the quasi-disastrous-but-ultimately-saved-by-it-being-the-Steph-and-Vince-show segment to announce Roman Reigns would be starting the Royal Rumble as the first entrant, but it’s not the one you think.

It’s not the gross incompetence of a creative team, or the rotten (self-induced) luck they’ve had with things going wrong, but an unwillingness to simply confront the audience about those things. As performers drop like flies, instead of saying “we are decimated by injuries, so why don’t we slow down the booking on these feuds and give some of most active performers certain nights off by design”, they push forward as though nothing happening.

And instead of just admitting that the entire gimmick of the spinning tumbler of balls filled with names was an elaborate ploy to show them trying to be fair, they tried to play the issue Vince with being unable to get the completely meaningless set up of a segment to work off as some kind of fodder for a future blooper reel. If you know what the point of the segment is – to put up an increasingly obvious charade that you are attempting to be fair – and what the punchline will be – that all of the names are Roman Reigns, because you are in fact huge jerks – why even bother to hold up the illusion of the first part when your goal the entire time is to make the second one as obvious as possible?

It’s not that they are out of touch with their audience’s interest in pop culture, it’s that they are unable to admit that their fans actually understand pop culture now. They understand where storylines might be going, and what to see you get there in a way that was well-executed more than they are concerned about being surprised. Twists, turns and swerves work when they serve simultaneously as exposition and escalating action. When Seth left the Shield, it not only raised the stakes of everything but did so in a way that explained exactly what was happening without insisting upon it or shoehorning in details to make it sound more important than it is.

People don’t miss the Attitude Era as much as the idea of what the Reality Era could have been and the fact that it already feels over. Except in the brief moments when Steph or Vince get to break the fourth wall to let everyone know who is really in charge, the show doesn’t have that bit of life that stops it from . They have to be willing to share that ability with people outside of themselves, and even the audience, if they are ever going to truly get back in the good graces of every part of their audience.



I am still confounded by the reaction to the Becky-Ric..err...sorry, -Charlotte Flair feud, if only because mine appears to be so different from the general feeling out there in th world. It’s not that I am unclear as to Becky-Charlotte’s motivations: they are former friends who have grown apart after making the big time of their chosen field. That happens. What I don’t understand is whether or not they are also running another angle where Ric’s mouth is cashing checks that Charlotte can’t (or doesn’t think she can) cash. Her reactions to a lot of the things her dad does seem to be unsure of this as well, and until they make it more clear whether or not she is feigning anger when her dad puts her in a bind she doesn’t want to be in or genuinely letting him put her in precarious positions like a bad tag team partner, I'm going to have trouble engaging with this the way everyone else does. Becky, though? Doing the Lord’s work.

After discussing this with friends, there seems to be something coming towards a majority that Byron Saxton might be sort of, kind of, almost good now. He’s developed into a character that, while not taken seriously by former champions and legends in the commentary position because he’s a dork, seems to have some semblance of what the psychology of each feud is and an approach that allows him to be both the voice of reason and the punching bag for whatever team he is on. While his work on Smackdown has become actively good – especially because he seems more willing to challenge Jerry Lawler (who has been reinvigorated as a quasi-heel on Smackdown!) – he truly reaches his apex as a character when being picked on by people like Kevin Owens. In the moments, he become sympathetic by transference as we all become thankful that we don’t have to deal with a dick like Kevin Owens at our jobs, while still being able to not feel too bad because he’s kind of a geeky turd. LoN and The Lucha Fringe also had a pretty good match during the Kevin Owens Show, so that was nice.

I’m completely unobjective about the New Day at this point, but the death of Francesca the trombone may end up being a weird turning point for them in the long arc of their narrative. They continue to -- Jericho-tainted segments aside -- on a roll of biblical proportions when it comes to being the best thing on the show ever week. This gives them the chance to continue to be ridiculous oddballs, but now gives them something to fight for beyond “we enjoy being Tag Team champions”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that being the reason you want to come to work every day -- wanting to be the best is never a bad reason to do anything -- but giving them something so silly to allow you to be sympathetic towards them on any level could end up going a long way to helping them reach an even higher level of fantastic.

Fantastic is not a level which may ever be reached by any of the participants in this adorable klusterkerfuffle of forgotten undercard talent -- and Mark Henry, America’s greatest hero -- but it’s still nice that white guys from Newcastle are finally getting shine on cable television’s second highest rated show.


There are things that can be said about Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho’s opening salvos on the thirteenth best episode of the Highlight Reel ever, but I’ve also been told by numerous people throughout my life that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. And, man, does Chris Jericho continue to be the turd in the punch bowl. He’s so clearly straining to get himself over in every segment that there’s just no way that he isn’t hinting towards some kind of eventual heel turn, or has decided this is last run with the WWE and he wants to be known by the trail of dead segments in his wake.

The disappointment was no doubt exacerbated by this being the first time we’ve really seen Paul talk to us about Brock in a decent amount of times. When he was running train on everyone, Paul Heyman promos were a sight to see. But, as Brock’s badassness has been pushed from 12-11.5, we’ve been deprived of his advocate. Hopefully this changes on the road to WrestleMania, both in terms of the frequency and the quality of the company he keeps.

Thankfully, Brock was eventually involved in this fun adventure, as was Roman. This, of course, was interrupted several times by various members of the WWE’s Rogues Gallery, but is something that both the crowd in the arena and the viewers watching at home are looking forward to. While those two audiences don’t always connect, even the smarkiest of smarks have seemingly put the hate train in neutral for #TheBigDog. And while it may feel weird for Roman to get the best of Brock -- even with unintended help from the League of Nations -- he’s also the person who has come closest to beating him out of anyone since he’s went Super Saiyan. It makes sense both logically, and narratively, as he was essentially cheap shotted by Brock a week earlier. That’s not to say this segment didn’t have its issues, but that they seemed worse on the surface than when you actually took a second to put all the pieces together.

But, ultimately, and genuinely shockingly -- not in a bad way, unless you really just don’t like Bray Wyatt for whatever reasons -- the people who stood the tallest were the Wyatt family. They have been showing more and more strength since Braun arrived, and it appears that although they will almost definitely not win it, the Wyatts have finally become as powerful in the eyes of the bookers as Bray’s promos make them out to be. Which means that on Sunday, it’s going to be more important than ever to Follow the Buzzards.

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