Del Rio! Swagger! Ricardo! Zeb! Ziggler! Holding Pattern! Five More Shows!
And just like that, SmackDown has reverted back to the days of old.
This was supposed to be different. This was supposed to be better. We had Alberto Del Rio as the one true face in WWE. A man of the people. A former evil doer who had seen the light of good. He stood up to The Big Show -- a true bully if there ever was one -- and emerged victorious. Del Rio had finally broken through the glass ceiling and can now be called a true main eventer.
So, of course he devolved into a WWE baby face, spouting out lame jokes for cheap pops.
Jack Swagger picked up a brilliant gimmick and side kick in Zeb Colter. Blatant xenophobia, a "real American" standing up the the Mexican champion. WWE has always occupied a strange place in popular culture, forcing us to look at our own reflection in a fun house mirror. Swagger and Zeb started strong out of the gates. The hatred they spewed was as beautiful as it was horrifying. These are men that we wanted to see get their asses kicked.
So, of course they kept hitting on the same points week in and week out, unable or unwilling to change the song.
Dolph Ziggler continues to hold the Money in the Bank contract, able to choose any opportunity to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship. This was supposed to be his opportunity to finally reach the big time. He was going to be built up like a star until he could finally wear the gold around his waist.
So, of course he's been jobbed out like a call center.
The World Heavyweight Championship is a secondary title. It has been that way for a while, and acceptance of the fact makes fandom much simpler. That shouldn't mean, though, the angle surrounding it is forgotten about. Sometimes it's enough to simply throw the talent into the ring and see what happens.
But when you rely this heavily upon a gimmick, there has to be some type of follow through. And when you've declared an heir to the throne, it's best not to make him look like a complete fool.
Del Rio and Swagger will continue to hit the same points they have been these past few weeks. Del Rio is Mexican. Swagger is American. Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez are stealing jobs. No, they are living the American dream. Swagger will return the championship to its rightful owner. Del Rio will defend the title for all those who stand against hatred.
Dolph Ziggler, along with AJ Lee and Big E Langston, will continue to languish in the wings. A year ago Ziggler was contending for the WWE Championship, and then the World Heavyweight Championship. Somehow, winning Money in the Bank has pushed him further down the card. AJ went from being Daniel Bryan's girlfriend, to stalking CM Punk, to becoming the General Manager of Monday Night Raw, to not even seeing screen time most weeks.
It seems Big E is the only one who has benefited, and even then it's been more of a lateral move.
So, we'll sit and wait until WrestleMania 29 comes and goes. Maybe Swagger and Zeb will change the tune. Perhaps Ziggler will do something interesting to mix things up. Or, we could see Del Rio buck the trend of WWE faces and be the sole compelling good guy on the roster.
More likely than not, though, the potential that was here will be squandered by those who should know what they are doing.
Orton! Sheamus! Show! The Shield! Odd Bedfellows!
Well this is an odd development, isn't it?
The Shield defeated John Cena, Sheamus, & Ryback at Elimination Chamber (Feb. 17) in an extremely well fought match. The heels stood tough against three of the top faces in the promotion and picked up the shocking victory. With Cena moving on to face The Rock, the question quickly became, "Who would be the new third man in the group?"
Somehow, WWE did its best Tony La Russa impersonation and managed a double switch.
Out went Cena and in came Chris Jericho for half an inning, eating the pinfall from The Shield on the following Monday Night Raw (Feb. 18). Then Ryback ran off to
the buffet potentially match up against Mark Henry, so Randy Orton was brought into the mix. Then Jericho decided plucking the ol' guitar strings was a more exciting use for his time, leaving a hole in the batting order.
It seems that hole can only be filled by a giant.
So we have uber-face Sheamus, who has been stalling since dropping the World Heavyweight Championship to The Big Show. We have Orton, who I can't even call a face or heel simply because he doesn't seem to actually give a rats ass what is going on around him. Then we have Show, the man who has been killing it as a heel as of late.
But Show was the 'heel' who knocked out Roman Reigns with a WMD on last week's SmackDown (March 1).
It is a weird cluster of talent to oppose the heel stable, but it's something that may end up working pretty well. The potential for infighting is basically guaranteed. It's all a matter of how long they can stick together. Will they make it to WrestleMania? Can they stay strong past that?
Or am I reading far too much into the close of last week's show, and this is all for naught?
The Shield is in a very strange place right now. They have been booked like gods, but are overshadowed by the main event of WrestleMania. If they stay strong, they can dominate over the summer months. Even if they lose, it could still be exciting to watch.
Things have gotten very odd in the upper-midcard. I enjoy that the team of Orton, Sheamus, and Show reflect that.
Hopefully, this has prepared you for the night's festivities. Leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to, and please join the entire CSS Friday night gang in the live blog TONIGHT!