Some people say things that evoke the wrong emotions. Some people say things that annoy rather than impress. Some people wow you with their bravery and some upset you on purpose. All of these things happened this week on WWE programming.
Take a gander at some of the most interesting and thought-provoking quotes of the week.
You aren’t going to steal their spotlight
“My title might be around her waist, but who the hell do you think you are? No one disrespects the queen.” – Charlotte to Rusev, who interrupted her as she made her way to the ring.
The Women’s Revolution continues to thrive, and the segment that kicked off Raw this Monday was further proof. Last week’s episode of Raw featured Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte in the main event for the Women’s Championship. This week saw the new champion start the show to address her title victory and to issue a challenge. Banks stated that she wanted to make history again, this time by defending her title against Charlotte in the first Hell in a Cell match featuring two women.
Rusev seems to feel the same way about his own date inside Hell in a Cell with Roman Reigns. He interrupted the proceedings before Charlotte was even able to finish her entrance and get into the ring. “The Bulgarian Brute” flat out told them that they didn’t matter and tried to call out Roman Reigns, but Charlotte wasn’t having any of that it. Not on her time. She took such significant and sincere offense to Rusev’s arrogance that she decided to physically rip the microphone out of his hand and proceeded to use it to tell him off.
This is important because there was a lot of talk while Charlotte was the champion that her title reign, and the division in general, was being undermined by having her father interfere in all of her matches. It was an issue because he was a man. Using a man in a high-profile role like Ric Flair was seen by some as detrimental to the idea that WWE had a renewed interest in portraying its women as strong, independent figures.
While I don’t necessarily agree that such was the case, it is still paramount for the women to be shown as self-sufficient and strong. It’s also important to do so without beating people over the head with it. WWE had some trouble doing that at first, but for the most part, the women are treated as equals on TV now.
That equality was solidified on Raw. Charlotte, with no fear whatsoever, forcefully and with purpose grabbed the microphone from Rusev. She minced no words and politely told him to shut his yapper. The self-professed queen proceeded to turn her focus back toward Sasha and her challenge, disregarding Rusev and Lana’s presence in the ring entirely. Rusev interjected and took the mic back when she was done, so Sasha knocked it right out of his big, hairy mitts. The rivals went on to shut Lana up when she chastised them by pushing her down (the only thing I would consider a misstep in this entire segment), and then teamed up to dropkick Rusev out of the ring when his back was turned (I can accept that).
One significant takeaway from the opening of Raw this week is that they didn’t compromise the rivalry between Sasha and Charlotte just to prove that women are just as strong as men. Whoever made the final decision for the feuding women to continue to keep their distance from each other and to not drop their respective guards because of “girl power!” needs to be given an extra pat on the back. That was a wise move and a little thing that you wouldn’t expect WWE to get right. They also didn’t have Charlotte take advantage of Rusev and Lana’s presence to get one over on the Women’s Champion.
Anything you can do, I can do better
“After watching last night’s pay-per-view No Mercy and watching that triple threat match, I couldn’t help but think, Raw could do it even bigger and better inside Hell in a Cell.” – Stephanie McMahon on giving Chris Jericho the chance to earn his way into the Universal Title match.
Competition is good. It’s healthy. It helps good brands become great brands. When the “brands” in question are called Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, however, it has felt like a petty sibling rivalry rather than an actual competition for brand supremacy.
I will preface my opinion on the matter by stating the obvious: There have been a significant amount of positives as a result of separating the two shows. More than I anticipated, to be perfectly honest. There is now a reason to watch SmackDown that isn’t mostly spawned from habitual viewing. Raw, though it is still fairly disjointed and unfocused, feels generally more purposeful as well.
Just as myself and many others expected, however, the entire concept boils down to being a shallow sibling rivalry. The competition between the shows is about a brother and a sister trying to prove to daddy that they are both more worthy than the other to be the heir to the family fortune. It has been the tiresome story of WWE on-and-off for the better part of almost two decades. There has been no attempt to hide it, either. From a storyline standpoint, Vince McMahon gave the flagship to one of his kids and let his other kid take the reins on Tuesday nights. The 2016 version of the brand split was created specifically, without any pretense whatsoever, for Vince’s children to fight over the future ownership of the company.
They are going to continue beating us over the head with it, too. Why can’t the constant one-upmanship be tucked away until, say, next summer when the split is approaching its one-year anniversary? The eldest McMahon can return and pass judgment at that time. In the last few weeks before his impending return, they can play up the sibling rivalry. We all know that the endgame is to declare one of them the winner and the other the loser, but there is no need to remind us of that every single week without fail.
The Miz is taking this extremely seriously
“Your victory is a funeral for the Intercontinental Championship’s legacy. It’s now tainted and dragged down by the mediocrity of you. You think this is funny? Oh I bet you and Daniel Bryan got a good laugh at that. But let me tell you something about that face. That face is me seeing everything I worked for, everything I sacrificed, getting ripped away from me. You think this is funny? It’s not funny. I take this very, very, very seriously and if you think for one second that I did everything to keep that, just imagine, imagine what I will do to get it back.” – The Miz on losing the Intercontinental Championship and how much it means to him.
Much like his outburst on the second-ever edition of “Talking Smack,” The Miz stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the ballpark. In fact, he hit the ball so perfectly with the sweet spot of the bat that it ripped the stuffing out. And that stuffing not only left the ballpark, but it sailed over McCovey Cove. And landed in Oakland.
The geography of that statement is a little bit off, but the point remains the same. Ever since he defended himself when Daniel Bryan called him a coward, The Miz has been on a different level. When he goes into that space inside his head like he did this week, it completely transcends the boundaries of good guys versus bad guys. You aren’t listening to a hated heel talking about a title belt that he thinks he deserves just for being who he is. These aren’t the egomaniacal ramblings of a stereotypical villain whose worldview is warped. The words coming out of the mouth of the self-proclaimed “A-List” superstar come from deep down inside. His oration is not rhetoric. It is his passionate truth.
None of this is to say that he is forgetting to play the role he has been designated to portray. Plenty of despicable men and women are extremely passionate about what they do and proud of how they do it. The Miz is a despicable guy. He’s mean, self-centered, and happy to break the rules even when he doesn’t need to. He demeans people for no reason and complains when he doesn’t get his way.
He also cares about his work and his legacy. Due to his immensely inflated sense of self-worth, The Miz believes that he is the only person who can reinvigorate the Intercontinental Championship. When he lost the title to Dolph Ziggler last week, everything he worked for since the moment he defeated Zack Ryder the night after WrestleMania was torn down. In order to build it back up, Miz has to start from square one. That first square requires him to regain the title from a man he perceives to be an unfit champion. A man who, according to The Miz, has been given more than one too many “second chances.”
Dolph Ziggler poked fun at the outpouring of emotions as Miz leaned against the ropes, crestfallen about what had just transpired. The former champion was offended by that and let loose when he defended himself, and rightfully so. The Miz is a bad guy who doesn’t deserve to be looked upon with reverence. That’s not being questioned. He should be jeered, not revered. What he does deserve is respect.
Cheaters never win? Don’t say that to AJ Styles
“I beat Dean Ambrose. I beat John Cena. And some may not like the way it went down, you don’t like how AJ Styles did that or did this. Well let me tell you something about AJ Styles. I am a winner, and winners find a way to win.” – AJ Styles on being criticized for cheating to win.
AJ Styles is the WWE World Champion. He’s “The Face That Runs The Place” and fancies himself “The Champ That Runs The Camp.” Probably “The Dude That Sets The Mood,” too. I don’t know.
In stark contrast to The Miz, this is a look inside the mind of the current top dog on SmackDown. AJ knows he is great, and he is more than willing to tell that to anybody within earshot. He also has exactly zero qualms about owning up to the fact that he will take advantage of any opportunity and will break the rules whenever he can get away with it. AJ is the prototypical heel champion and he is doing it very well.
He’s an ass. Pure and simple. He knows it, too. That’s why his character is so great. He isn’t covering up with a facade. There’s no “playing dumb.” Styles is not trying to act like he doesn’t know that his behavior is looked down upon. In fact, the man is proud of his ability to pull a fast one on the referees and his opponents. He knows that a referee’s decision is final (except, of course, when it’s not — but that’s another topic for a different time), so he openly gloats about cheating because they can’t take his title from him once the bell has rung and the night is over.
The champion is making it easy for everybody to hate him. It’s refreshing to see a simple bad guy who is unapologetic and doesn’t rely heavily on comedy. He’s just mean-spirited, and it’s exactly what he needs to be.