Dean Ambrose and John Cena had to wrestle for a contract to face Seth Rollins at the upcoming Hell in a Cell (HIAC) pay-per-view (PPV) event later this month, so the Monday Night RAW main event consisted of two headliners, one contract, and one pole.
It was similar to a Money in the Bank (MITB) ladder match, sans briefcase, ladder, excitement, and anything else that would compel you to create said match.
The contract on a pole match (COAPM) is flawed in its design, because climbing to the top rope is commonplace in professional wrestling. That's why I was surprised at the amount of backlash it got from fans, who buried the RAW main event for its blatant stupidity.
Hey, we signed up for this crap.
Part of the criticism is how the COAPM required Ambrose to dumb himself down to its level. Midway through the match, Cena was tossed by the "Lunatic" -- who was then unable to turn around and grab the contract. If he did, the match would have lasted all of three minutes.
The few times he did make a (cough) "run" for the pole, he was walking in wet cement, or climbing the turnbuckles like he was perched atop New York City's Freedom Tower. What choice did he have? None, really, but I'm not sure it was as damaging as it was perceived to be.
Every match has a nonsensical spot.
No, really, you can't see me: Wrestler turns around to argue with manager/valet/non-descript interloper: OMG TURNAROUND -- (deafening crowd screaming) -- THE HEEL IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU! Turns around, gets bonked with a
Rusev foreign object, loses match.
Alligator arms: Wrestler A representing babyface tag team gets whaled on for 15 minutes, somehow musters up the strength to deliver crippling suplex to heel Wrestler B that deals damage equivalent to a shot in the nuts, then collapses and grows Hornswoggle arms while stretching for the hot tag. May or may not get it.
Maybe it will work this time? Wrestler A whips Wrestler B into the corner, pauses, then breaks out into a full sprint toward opponent, but has no discernible offensive attack and just crashes into turnbuckles at full speed, or flies through the ropes and collides with metal pole after Wrestler B casually sidesteps oncoming bumrush.
The list goes on and on.
If it's stupid in design, it will be stupid in execution. In fact, I have this argument with my wife all the time, which I find amusing, considering she's of greater intellect than I. But television has a way of drawing out logic where it is not welcome, like when we watch The Walking Dead.
Lady H: (Exasperated sigh) Ugh! Why don't they just (insert practical solution here)?
Hulk H: (Matter-of-factly) Because the show would be over before the first commercial break.
Lady H: (Louder exasperated sigh): Yeah, but STILL!
And if you think fans were annoyed last night on RAW, imagine how Ambrose must have felt, standing in the middle of the ring with the contract right next to him while Cena flopped around the arena floor.
It's the worst feeling in the world.
In my previous life as a corporate suit, I once had to give a three-minute presentation to the board. As I walked up to the lectern, my boss whispered to me, "Johnson missed his train, I need you to fill an extra 10 minutes." And those of you familiar with public speaking know that 10 minutes may as well be 10 years.
Naturally, I went up there and died a slow and painful death.
Which I can only imagine is what Ambrose was feeling as he was told he had (insert remaining television time here) to keep doing things that defied logic. Especially with the contract helplessly dangling from a pole that was probably within reach by way of standing vertical leap.
But you have to play the hand you're dealt.
As for that other stuff, we already knew John Cena was the promotion's golden goose, is a god among men, always wins in the end, and blah, blah, blah. No surprises there. Ultimately, that's what WWE is, for better or for worse. A foundation of silly programs and reactive, stitched together stories that every now and again give birth to compelling content.
And a pole. Let's not forget the pole.
When WWE programming starts to get really bad, I break out my Mystery Science Theater voice-overs, because my kid is still young enough to find my hackneyed gags entertaining, even though my wife usually facepalms and excuses herself from the room, simply for sanity's sake.
I guess in a way, my hot-and-cold shtick is not entirely unlike our weekly viewings of RAW.