One of my big problems with WWE Raw these days is that the matches don’t feel like they have stakes. And no, ice cream blueprints don’t count.
So we have to look to wrestling’s lively and innovative independent scene, specifically the promotion WrestlePro – where you can see former WWE star Ryback take on Ring of Honor’s Colt Cabana in a CM Punk action figure on a pole match.
— The Big Guy (@Ryback22) March 7, 2017
Cabana has been friends with Punk since when they broke into the business together, while Ryback found himself a recurring subject in the Straightedge Superstar’s shoot Art of Wrestling podcast. There better be a ‘dumb as f***’ chant’ at that show.
As this week’s Raw took place in CM Punk’s hometown of Chicago, he received many a chant. Another popular chant that night was ‘Roman Sucks’. But you wouldn’t know it going by WWE’s YouTube channel.
On the ‘Roman Reigns has a chilling encounter with The Undertaker’ video excerpt from this week’s Raw uploaded there, Roman’s walk down to the ring – where he was serenaded by chants of ‘Roman Sucks’ – has been completely edited out. ‘But he almost took as long as The Undertaker to walk down there. WWE just cut that out to save time,’ you might say. And you could be correct, but that doesn’t explain the altered crowd audio when both men stare at the Wrestlemania sign. On the original broadcast, you can very clearly hear ‘Roman Sucks’. But on the YouTube clips, it sounds like ‘Romah su-ahhh’ with loads of ambient crowd noise piped in.
According to a live report on WrestleZone Radio, the Roman booing from the crowd continued after Raw went off air.
The ‘boos’ didn’t affect Raw that much, though, with viewership increasing from 3.093 million average last week to 3.216 million. But far more noteworthy are the WrestleTalk Raw poll results, where again I was outvoted: 37% of you agreed with me at Cor, but 48% thought the episode slightly less impressive at AvRAWge.
Speaking of WWE’s YouTube uploads, their Goldberg beating Kevin Owens for the Universal Title at WWE Fastlane clip has an overwhelmingly negative 17,000 dislikes to 12,000 likes. Which suggests it isn’t just the ‘smart fans’ that don’t want a part-timer as champion for Wrestlemania 33.
Something else that should get just as many dislikes is Handsome Rusev losing clean on Sunday night.
Things were looking up for the Bulgarian George Clooney when he announced his split with Jinder Mahal. But later on, Rusev was destroyed by The Big Show. This could be to build Big Show for his on/off Wrestlemania match against Shaq. But it could also be for good old fashioned wrestling politics.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer speculated that someone has it in for Rusev backstage, as he continues to be very poorly booked on TV despite his obvious talent. Bryan Alvarez pointed out that Rusev cut his hair last week, and might not have let Vince McMahon know. He also mentioned a rumour going around that the Bulgarian Brute did a big goodbye to the imminently departing Jack Swagger, which rubbed backstage officials the wrong way.
— Rusev on the Roof (@RusevBUL) March 3, 2017
When Swagger revealed he had asked for his WWE release on Chael Sonnen’s podcast, he explained it was an “ongoing process”. Then WAW British Wrestling – the promotion run by Paige’s family – announced Swagger would be facing Alberto Del Rio in his first post-WWE match the following week.
— WAW BritishWrestling (@WAW_UK) March 3, 2017
This seems to have also drawn some heat from WWE, as they quickly issued a statement reading: “Jack Swagger has not been granted a release from his WWE contract. When he is granted his release, Jack Swagger will remain under exclusive contract to WWE for 90 days and will be compensated accordingly during that period.”
Which means he can’t turn up for TNA Impact Wrestling for at least three months. WAW then announced Chris Masters will be taking Swagger’s place in the Del Rio match, and that The All-American American will appear later on in the year.