After last Monday’s misfire, WWE will try to relaunch the starship Raw from Houston on Dec. 3.
A friend of mine used to love Dean Ambrose. Her reconnection to pro wrestling and WWE came around the same time The Shield debuted on the main roster, and the edgy dude who seemed at first to be their... if not leader, at least spokesperson, was the one who captured her attention. She dug back into his FCW 15 feud with his teammate Seth Rollins in developmental, and the promos from his independent days as Jon Moxley really impressed her. By the time the Hounds of Justice split the first time, she was all about the Lunatic Fringe.
Not sure where it was in the months of hot dog cart and briefcases full of barf-like substances it happened, but I’m pretty sure she’d given up on WWE before he lost a pay-per-view (PPV) match to Bray Wyatt when he didn’t realize electronic devices had to be unplugged before you could use them as a weapon without risking electrocuting yourself.
The point of the story? I’m not entirely sure (although it does make me miss The Lady J). I guess it’s that despite his SmackDown run chasing and holding the WWE title, it’s time we all give up any hope of badass, edgy Dean Ambrose ever showing up in main roster WWE. I was holding out some hope - based largely on Talking Smack promos, I’ll admit. But the last few weeks of his Intercontinental title program with Seth Rollins have beaten it out of me.
As someone who wasn’t offended by the choice to turn Ambrose the night Roman Reigns revealed he was leaving to get treatment for leukemia, I guess the ruthlessness of that decision also gave me that hope. While other people were turned off by his using the Big Dog’s cancer in a later promo, though, I was too distracted by the goofy chase he was leading Rollins on around the building. The idea was fine - the guy who’s supposed to be the wild card was playing the one who calls himself an “Architect” like a puppet. But the execution was more Bugs Bunny than Hannibal Lecter.
Then last week, he was getting a shot in his butt to ensure he didn’t catch a disease from the WWE Universe and it was clear that even as a heel, the Lunatic was going to be more screwball than sadistic.
In retropect, even the best Moxley/Ambrose promos and character work aren’t subtle. He’s got a tendancy to overact which works well in WWE, and probably explains why he’s still very popular with a lot of fans. Which is great! But as we get ready for the build to TLC to feature another wacky “evil” promo from Dean, probably delivered before another Rollins match against Dolph Ziggler, it’s time to admit there’s no point holding out for any other character or performance, whether he’s a face or a heel. This is the Dean Ambrose we’re going to get.
The title scene
In lieu of appearances by Universal champion Brock Lesnar, we’re deep into another cycle of authority figure drama. Acting General Manager Baron Corbin thinks he has the full-time job in the bag after putting Braun Strowman on the disabled list and using his heavies Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley to put beatdowns on babyfaces Elias & Finn Bálor. With all of those names paired off into matches on the TLC card, expect more of the same tonight. Maybe the good guys won’t act like dummies for a change?
Their talking segment last week ended with Women’s champ Ronda Rousey beating up Riott Squad, after Nia Jax arranged for them to beat up Natalya. Rowdy & Natty are scheduled to face Jax & Tamina on this episode. Surely Ruby Riott & team won’t get involved, right?
AOP tag team champs and the question on everyone’s minds is, what will Drake Maverick pee on next? Seeing as he spent much of the last week reminding us he peed on Bobby Roode’s robe last Monday, it will probably be something associated with Akam & Rezar’s last challengers, Roode & partner Chad Gable.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Another aspect of the authority figure angle saw Corbin appoint Alexa Bliss as the czar of the women’s division. She used her power to hold a fan Q & A for Bayley & Sasha Banks that was really a trap. The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection fought off an attack by Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox & Mickie James. So... that’s a thing that’s happening.
- WWE’s discovered lucha tag rules, and so far that’s working out very well for the Lucha House Party trio, but not so well for the Revival, a duo.
- Mixed Match Challenge is a thing and because of that thing Jinder Mahal is on Raw a lot lately and look I’m sorry but just because they slapped a Royal Rumble spot and a (checks notes) all expenses paid vacation on as prizes I still don’t care.
Two weeks until TLC!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?