Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a party-sized edition of Four Corners. I will do my best to take some of the hot stories and wrestling and dissect them in this space. Consider it a mixed bag of merriment, if you will. Feel free to set your phaser to Dusty Rhodes for that last line. Anyway, on with the show:
1) Seth Rollins Turns On The Shield
If, like myself, you found Payback to be decent but by no means overwhelming (perhaps it was the very high bar set by the NXT Takeover show? I think so!) then you likely found Monday Night Raw to be slightly better as they advanced a couple of looming angles. WWE, ever the one to attempt to stay one step ahead of the internet intelligentsia, teased the concept of The Shield staying together just long enough to attempt to make everyone forget they were going to eventually break them up. Apparently, as we discovered Monday, that timeframe was just long enough for them to get their first extremely convincing win over Evolution. The very next night, as Bluetista bid adieu (more on that shortly), it was Seth Rollins of all members who delivered the Judas blow to his former partners to close out the show on a hot angle indeed.
Plenty to discern here, but let's start with the evident: Timing is everything, and I found this timing to be extremely poor. I could care less if The Shield break up, as it's bound to happen. If you're a fan of any of the individuals in the group (and I'm a fan of all three), you'll be able to appreciate them much more shed from the collective anywho. Aside from the instant (and very effective) immediate "WTF?" reaction, you're left with the realization that this is essentially a way to keep this feud going. No thanks. Triple H's in-ring activity should be reserved for special occasions, and it's high time Randy Orton found a way to rebound with the right opponent from his lengthy Authority-fueled title run. If Rollins is now Orton in the Evo 2.0, I suppose that means Orton is Trips and Trips is Ric Flair. I don't know which part of that I'm most scared of.
That said, Rollins is far and away the correct choice for this turn. Ambrose would be everyone's number one option, as he's a natural heel, and that's part of the reason why I felt this was a strong idea. Reigns is completely and utterly over with the crowd at this point and the WWE would be foolish not to capitalize on that fact. I know they like to thumb their nose at the popular consensus from time to time, but it's a no-brainer to prep him for a solid singles run and eventually a strap of some kind. Ambrose and Rollins can feud for six months and I'd still be a happy man and a happy fan. They have significant history and work extremely well together. Rollins has developed a Kofi Kingston-like ability to steal the show with one big move of the night, and I hope that's not impacted by his heel turn. It very well may be because of how into them the crowd gets. He's going to have to be presented just right in order to prevent fans heading to the dark side with him.
Rollins, who often played the mediator in the Reigns/Ambrose dustups, is a logical choice to be the guy who broke down and signed up with the boss to grab that brass ring. His next couple promos will be extremely important. This is an area where Rollins has been okay, but now that he's made this mega-move he's got to sell the story part of it. I for one think he's more than capable. Wherever this tale leads for all involved, these next few weeks are a critical stage in Seth's career. Let's hope WWE plans accordingly.
2) Bye, Bye Batista
One of the most infuriating and disastrous returns of many a moon came to a sudden close on Monday, as the other big story of the evening saw the much-maligned Big Dave Batista telling Triple H that he was quitting due to not being treated fairly. Considering the fact that just about everyone under the sun knew Davey was quitting anyway, I can't say that his departure filled me with shock and awe. Much like the rest of his return, I faced it with a combination of skepticism and hilarity. Batista vs. The Internet Smarks ended up being the feud he'll most be remembered for in this latest iteration, and as I've stated previously here it's not all his fault. Batista was seen as one overly large reason why Daniel Bryan would be jobbed out of the big belt again, and then it all went to pot in a hurry.
I'm not actually sure whether we were supposed to side with Batista or not, come to think of it. Creative obviously expected us to welcome him back with open arms, and his infuriated reaction to the lack of applause worked from a character standpoint. But he seems to be taking it really, really seriously, and I don't know that I give him enough credit to stay in character that well. Considering that he's about to head off and promote a movie in which he portrays a guy attacked by an alien in a spaceship and placed into someone else's body, I'm not sure that he should be playing it so straight. Deep breaths, big guy, deep breaths. I can appreciate the fact that incessant jibes at one's wardrobe choices can be irritating, but he's presumably heard of the idea of taking the high road, no?
Batista is rumored to be headed back around SummerSlam, and hopefully they'll have figured out how to book him by then. Any hope of him portraying a face appears to be ended at the moment, but if they rekindle his shade with Triple and the Mrs. it might be enough to get even the most outspoken critics on his side, at least temporarily. I can't cop to being a fan of much of Dave B's in-ring work, but he is a behemoth and in wrestling even these days sometimes that's enough. I would not mind seeing him tangle with Brock Lesnar once or twice before one (or both) head off into the wrestling sunset.
Oh, and his wave goodbye was by far the most entertaining thing he's done since returning. Or perhaps at all. Happy trails Blue.
3) Bray is MIA
Plenty of fans were not happy at all when Bray Wyatt lost the Last Man Standing match at Payback. Had it been a Last Man Rocking match, I have a feeling it would have gone down different, but that's another story. Wyatt was bleeding from several spots after the hard-hitting affair and sold it by taking the following Raw off. It was a great strategy, as it made us look forward to what's next for the Way Better Waylon Mercy and gave us a Luke Harper promo that was absurdly fantastic. The guy seriously just needs to say he'll drink your milkshake and start staking oil claims and he's ready for a movie career at this point. Cena, meanwhile, was cast back into the all-too-familiar role of defending Daniel Bryan while reminding us all that he didn't really get a rematch after Bryan took his belt due to his surgery. Yawn. I'll pass on that storyline unless it really happens, because Cena will be a heel there whether he likes it or not.
I had no problem with the ending of the match, as Cena winning doesn't diminish Bray or his character in the least. WWE runs a big risk by allowing The Wyatts to become too popular if they intend to keep them as monster heels, which is the appropriate thing to do at this juncture. I felt they made progress with the Lawler segment last week, and hope that viciousness continues upon his return this week. I did not really like the level of interference in the match Sunday, as it felt pretty forced to me, and less is generally more, even in wrestling. Overall, though, the two guys have told a very effective story, and I'll be interested to see where it leads Bray. He needs to appear in the ladder match at MITB for sure in my view. His style is a perfect fit for that type of match and he'll be a credible contender regardless of the rest of the slate involved.
The next opponent for Wyatt will be an interesting choice. I might recommend Big Show, who would complement Bray's size and aggressiveness and allow him to rack up a couple of wins against a known quantity. Bray could attempt to unleash that former beast inside of Big Show, and whether he ultimately signs up with the Family or not, it would be an interesting ride nonetheless. It would also invariably lead to some excellent sartorial choices for the Giant, and that's worth the price of admission alone in my book. There isn't a tremendous need to rush Bray, as his character works just as well if not better without a title, and that's a rarity in this business. Spend the time turning him into a complete and utter evil creature, and it will pay major dividends later. The business hasn't had a true guy of that sort since Kevin Sullivan, and it needs it.
4) Michaels Staying Sidelined
I don't know what it says about wrestling's current state of affairs when Shawn Michaels is the voice of reason, but there it is. In a current documentary on WWE Network focused on Shawn's match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25, the Heartbreak Kid divulged that the reason he has been content to stay retired after the following year's rematch was because the two mutually realized that there was no better way for it to go. Despite the pressures of being such a long-tenured superstar, Michaels was positively profound when reflecting: "I've never done a perfect thing in my life, but I am at least wise enough to know those things I've done that shouldn't be messed with." Bravo.
I enjoyed Michaels having the guts to immerse himself in the Bryan/Trips feud, even temporarily, and enjoyed it even more when he received his comeuppance from his former pupil and just left it there. Sentimentality and nostalgia can be catnip to us wrestling fans, but it's not always a good idea to dust them off and lace 'em up again and again. It devalues the process and makes it less special. You want to do an Old School Raw night? Great. Cameos and backstage bits? Excellent. But when you go beyond that and start forcing retirees back into the ring to drain that last ounce of glory, it becomes an uncomfortable situation for all involved.
There can be no doubt that Shawn is a showman. He was then and he is now. That desire to perform and be seen and heard permeates the business, and it's why many of the great ones can never really leave. It takes serious fame or darker demons to drive them from the spotlight, and even then it's fleeting. It's not a complaint, per se: I appreciate the chance to revel in a fantastic wrestler's performance each and every time they show up. But being a part of the show and attempting to be the show again are two different things entirely, and generally when a wrestler returns from a "retirement" angle it leaves a sour taste. You can't always go home again, as it were.
I prefer to think of Shawn the way he relates in the documentary. I've never been a fan of much of what I've heard about the man himself back in the day, but his ring work is impeccable and those matches with The Undertaker are the stuff of legend. They are both matches I will show my children when they want to know what wrestling was like in my day. (I'll probably avoid Show vs. Akebono and The Royal Family vs. Clowns 'R Us, but you get the idea.) At a certain point, the lily is beyond gilded. We may chant "one more match," but sometimes the "thank you" chant is sufficient. Just because you don't get an encore doesn't make the show any less boss.
Something you'd like covered in the corner? Let me know below.